By Caleb Faires
I think most of us have asked at some time, “What is God’s will for my life?” Quite often the advice I have received sounded like this: “Do what brings you joy,” or, “If God has opened a door of opportunity, walk through it.” But rarely has anyone said to me: “Embrace the path that is full of struggle, grief, and loss.” Yet the life of faith is often just such a path.
For Ruth, every external indicator beckoned her to return home. Even her dear mother-in-law, Naomi, pleaded with Ruth and Orpah, “Turn back!” Why, then, did Ruth stay? She was going to a land she did not know. She was leaving everything familiar—her own land, her sister, and her family.
Naomi’s insistence clarifies the nature of Ruth’s decision. Ruth did not follow in hopes of personal gain. Naomi told her she could offer no luxurious living, no hopes of a new husband. She offered poverty, loss, and bitterness (Ruth 1:12-13). Yet Ruth took the path of greatest resistance because she had in view gains that were more than earthly. Ruth’s famous declaration, “Your people will be my people,” was rooted in her oath, “Your God will be my God” (v.16).
This was not merely a human promise to follow Naomi, but a covenant vow to serve the God of Israel. Ruth remained with Naomi because her affections were set upon Naomi’s Lord, even though her decision might mean a life of hardship.
Where do you set your affections? Do you look for God’s guidance only in the promises of earthly success? Do you make this world’s luxuries the measure of God’s will? Too often, our hearts are fickle, valuing Christ only when our faith serves our desires. But when tribulation or persecutions arise, do we fall away?
God the gardener promises that even in the desolate places, He brings forth life. Though He leads us into the wilderness, there He will speak tenderly to us (Hosea 2:14). Indeed, on that day, even the earth shall answer, even the grain, even the wine and the oil. The desert and the parched land will be glad, and we will lie down in safety (Isaiah 35:1, Hosea 2:18).
May we hold fast to Christ, forsaking all worldly affections, that we may see the eternal harvest and gain those profits which will last forever.