Family Ties

from the Ruth reading plan

Ruth 1:1-5, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, 1 Timothy 5:4-8

What is your theology of suffering? You have one. We all do. We may never have thought about it, but we all have presumptions we carry regarding how to think about and deal with pain and loss.

The book of Ruth opens with the story of a woman named Naomi, whose heart is broken. When we meet her, she is married to Elimelech. They are living in Bethlehem with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, when famine strikes. Elimelech decides they should uproot and go east to Moab to survive. Out of the gate, this family is facing two huge hardships: the loss of sustenance and the loss of their home.

Then, in Moab, Elimelech dies, leaving Naomi a widow in a foreign land. Her sons marry local Moabite women, but before a decade passes, both of her sons also die. Now she is a widow in a strange land with no sons—only two daughters-in-law who are also widows.

Naomi’s loss looks devastating. How would you have responded to this? If that were me, I might easily be asking, “Is God involved in my life? Has He failed to be good?”

When tragedy hits, we’re left to try to figure out what to do with it. This is where we all get seriously theological. If there is a God, what sort of God is He? Where is He in our pain?

There are really only four options. We could say:

1. There is no God, and that’s just the nature of things. Struggle and suffering are problems we endure, try to learn from, and move past.

2. There is a God, but He’s not involved. When we cannot understand how a Divine Being could exist in the same cosmos as our pain, we’re tempted to chalk it up to the Creator being distant, disinterested, or off doing other things.

3. There is a God who is involved, but He’s cruel. Here, the Divine Being is like the Greek gods, doling out karma, and sometimes we’re the casualties. This god is the bad guy.

4. There is a God who is involved, and He is good—even in the midst of our suffering, even when we don’t understand Him.

Naomi embraced that last option, and held on for dear life. We call this faith.

When God set out to tell His people their story, He included the story of Ruth—this seemingly small vignette about two single women in the midst of extreme uncertainty, dealing with crushing loss. Why do we need this story? For one reason: It shows us that God is working in small stories just as much as He is in grand, sweeping epics.

In the small story of Ruth, God works through loss and love, famine and harvest, foreigner lands and family, to preserve a genealogy that would lead directly to King David and Christ Himself.

We need this story to help us recognize that God is always doing more than we can see, even in our pain. We need to remember that one person’s story is never only about that one person. Your story is not solely about you, and neither is mine just about me. Our stories belong to God, who is always doing immeasurably more than we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

To Him be the glory as we study Ruth.

Written By Russ Ramsey

Plan to read John with us starting January 3.
Post Comments (39)

39 thoughts on "Family Ties"

  1. Joe Pugh says:

    God is always present in the midst of our struggles. The choice is our’s to pick “Option 4” just like Naomi, and trust that He is good and that our deliverance is promised.

  2. Caleb Benner says:

    God’s narrative is overarching over our lives but also interwoven thought the minutiae. He has never and will never abandon us – this is his ultimate promise. It is our task to accept that – often blindly – and live our lives in that manner. That is faith.

  3. Michael Maytorena says:

    God has a plan that we may not always agree with or even be aware of. It’s important to realize that no matter what He has it’s something greater than what we could plan for ourselves. He created us… How is it that he wouldn’t know what we need. I often realize that I try and take control of my life and must work on asking God for guidance. I think I know what’s best for me… But like a child I lack the wisdom of my father.

  4. Michael Maytorena says:

    I will remember that even in times of pain and suffering that God is doing great things within me. For things to become great they must be put through the flames. I will endure what God has planned for me always having faith that I will become what he envisioned me to me. What could be greater than to serve and let God.

  5. Michael Maytorena says:

    It’s a small part on a much larger spectrum. The Gospel is much like our lives in the sense that we all are used by God to complete the plan.

  6. Michael Maytorena says:

    Instead of asking I will praise. Because God is good in every way and I am blessed beyond words to be His son.

  7. Michael Maytorena says:

    I think it takes more of a man to let go and give it up to God than to try and handle it on our own.

  8. Roger Jackson says:

    That he is always there and he always has a plan even if it’s hard for us to understand, which sometimes it is. His will be done

  9. Roger Jackson says:

    It’s hard to be faithful through tough times it’s so easy to say God works when it is a blessing but when it’s hardship it’s God can’t do this! Why would he do this

  10. Roger Jackson says:

    It’s always relevant. It’s always relates to our lives in the present.

  11. Roger Jackson says:

    Praying and being faithful!

  12. Roger Jackson says:

    Often and with an open heart.

  13. Keeler Boone says:

    That we so often look to find God with the wrong perspective and we look in all the wrong places.

  14. Keeler Boone says:

    The good news of Christ is the same good news throughout time. It’s never less or more important depending on what stage of life I am in.

  15. Keeler Boone says:

    That he is always there no matter the circumstances. And he is good.

  16. Keeler Boone says:

    I will rejoice in the gospel for the sole purpose of rejoicing in the gospel

  17. Keeler Boone says:

    I will pray that through the trials awaiting I will keep my eyes fixed on Christ, and will persuade others to do the same.

  18. Oli says:

    God cares about the seemingly unimportant people and their circumstances. God doesn’t try to hide from the reality of suffering in his word.

  19. Oli says:

    Remember the significance and importance of my own life and those around me I might otherwise consider to be unimportant to God.

  20. Oli says:

    Since God cares about the seemingly unimportant people and their circumstances, we have every reason to believe that God saves the same people through his gospel

  21. McClain C says:

    God please let me recognize that you are working in my life. All you are is all i want. I try to go my own way and seek out my own solutions to my suffering. Help me lean on you instead try to fix everything.

  22. Sean Thelen says:

    The one who does not take care of his family is worse than an unbeliever. I had just been reflecting on that before I decided to start studying Ruth. I see in Boaz a man who chooses to take heed of God’s words and take care of his family even despite seeing someone else choose not to. He was truly an example for me to take care of my family, and especially my wife. Christ is the ultimate example of this sacrifice as he died in our place so we might become part of his family. Lord Jesus, thank you for you example of taking care your family.

  23. Sean Thelen says:

    We wouldn’t need the rule about taking care of our family if it was something we were prone to always do. We tend to want to take care of ourselves first, and even focus and God making us better, and less on taking care of our family.

  24. Sean Thelen says:

    The Gospel is about taking up our cross for the sake of others. We follow Christ’s example by doing the hard thing which is put others, especially our families, above ourselves.

  25. Sean Thelen says:

    I will pray specifically for my wife specifically every day during this study and see where God leads.

  26. Sean Thelen says:

    I will pray for her needs every free moment that I have when I’m sitting by myself. I will fast from my 1 AM / lunchtime meal every day that I’m not working. I will ask God during those times to be blessing her and loving her.

  27. Lukas Fortunato says:

    The Gospel reaches into our suffering and loss. It meets us in our pain to bring hope and rescue.

  28. Lukas Fortunato says:

    As I go through my thousand decisions today, mostly small and seemingly insignificant, remember that God is present and that it matters in the larger story of Gods redemption plan.

  29. Lukas Fortunato says:

    Suffering is part of our human experience. As much as positivity and positive thinking is the current trend, understanding that there will be pain is part of our journey.

  30. Lukas Fortunato says:

    That He is present in the details. Just as Ruth’s story mattered to God’s plan of redemption for the world, mine does as well. He is present in the thousand little decisions that make up a day and He is present in the big moments that define our lives.

  31. Zac Hawkins says:

    This teaches me that God always has a purpose for certain things that happen in our life; good and bad. We just have to trust in him to get through it.

  32. Zac Hawkins says:

    Man is so quick to speak but not so quick to listen. We would rather react first than listen to God and see things though a Christlike perspective.

  33. Zac Hawkins says:

    The Gospel is full of stories and encounters that repeat itself through history. We should read and apply it to our lives

  34. Zac Hawkins says:

    In the past, I always react instantly to a problem. But now I pray that god will strengthen me to see things through and for him before blaming him and questioning why he’s doing something.

  35. Zac Hawkins says:

    I will pray for strength, guidance, and knowledge to get through my struggles

  36. Drew McDonald says:

    I fear the day I am out in a terrible situation that causes me to question my faith. I have not experienced a great loss in my life or been in a situation where my faith was tested. I know that with a stronger connection in the Lord and a growing soul I can overcome any situation. I believe and want to have the faith it takes to overcome situations I witness on the daily.

  37. Drew McDonald says:

    No matter the difficulties I am faced with daily, there is always a purpose. The stronger my faith; the more I am capable in trusting in the Lord. God is always faithful and always has a bigger plan that is not seen in the moment.

  38. Drew McDonald says:

    I will pray intentionally for wisdom and a strong, continuous faith in the Lord. I will pray that I surround myself with positive influences so that one day when my faith is tested I will have positive wisdom to guide me. When the days of questioning faith overcome me, I will be able to think back on this story of the widow and know that my faith is stronger.

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