John Piper describes the believer’s life as a twisty-turny state road through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. There are rockslides, dark mists, and slippery curves. Sometimes the difficult road is caused by our own sin, sometimes by the sins of others, sometimes for the purpose of glorifying God, and sometimes just because life can be a rough road.
Along that hazardous, twisted road are frequent signs of hope, but unfortunately, it’s possible to completely miss them. We can keep our eyes up always looking for the signs of hope–the presence and sovereignty of God–or we can keep them focused on the mist, the precipice, and the darkness. The experience of our journey is not determined by our circumstances, those twists and turns, but by our responses to them. Will we keep our eyes peeled for the signs of hope and trust? Or will we focus on the twists and turns and allow our faith to falter?
The book of Ruth describes two women who between them cover almost every season of life and every type of emotion. First, we meet Naomi, a woman in dire circumstances. I cannot overemphasize the severity of her condition. In a culture where a woman is completely dependent on her husband or sons for support, Naomi is bereft of both. She and her two daughters-in-law have no means of sustenance. She is childless, widowed, impoverished, aging, and destitute of all land and possessions. She decides to return to Bethlehem, her home.
When she arrives, she tells her old friends to call her Mara, which means bitter, “. . . for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21, ESV) Naomi, consumed with sorrow, looks down at her circumstances and suffers spiritual amnesia. Her faith is shaken. She missed road signs of hope on her dark and winding road. What were they?First, God wooed her home from Moab, a godless country. Second, He gave her Ruth, a woman who steadfastly refused to leave Naomi’s side despite her bitterness and hopelessness.
Scripture hints of God’s plans for Naomi and Ruth.
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her . . . And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Ruth 1:22
This is one giant road sign of hope–hope of a new day, a season of spring, and a ripe harvest after famine. God has an abundant future in store for Naomi and Ruth. His loving-kindness, provision, and ultimately redemption are beautiful themes of this book.
Look up, Sweet Friend, if you’re walking a twisty-turny road of tragedy or pain. Look up for signs of the Lord and hope!
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. Psalm 130:5
His Word–a trustworthy place in which to hope. The LORD–a trustworthy One on whom to wait.
About the Writer:
Joni C. passionately enjoys sharing what she learns studying her Bible with the ladies of Refresh and Refresh@Night. Her days are best described as comfortable chaos – filled with grandchildren, a sweet mom-in-law, study time, and unexpected changes in plan. She’s also a frequent flyer to Pittsburgh for fun and cold weather chaos with her transplanted grandchildren in the north. All of this is far from the bon bons and leisure time her husband imagines her daily enjoying!