We don’t always hear wonderful in-law stories, but here’s a great one about a Mother–in–law from the book of Ruth in the Bible:
Ruth 1: 9-18: “Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, ‘We will go back with you to your people.’ But Naomi said, ‘Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me . . . Return home . . .’ At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. ‘Look,’ said Naomi, ‘your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.’ But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”
What a great mother-in-law Naomi must have been. But when it came decision time, even Naomi wasn’t enough for Orpah to leave her familiar circumstances. It would require something greater: faith. Lately, I’ve been thinking about faith and how it plays a role in our futures. To believe in something without actually seeing it requires a great deal of hope and patience. It is so much easier to go down a path we recognize, even when that path is filled with potholes we can see. Ruth and Orpah show us the struggle with faith.
It has always intrigued me that Orpah chose to stay in Moab, and Ruth chose to go with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem. It seems that both daughters-in-law had a sweet, loving, loyal relationship with Naomi, and Naomi genuinely cared for them and wanted the best for them. If this is true, why did Orpah turn back and go home?
I think there is a lesson we can learn. Ruth had seen faith in God through observing this Hebrew family while they lived in Moab. She was willing to let what was familiar go and head into an uncertain future with the God of her mother-in-law. Orpah loved Naomi, but she wasn’t willing to risk losing the familiar for her. Back then, to leave one’s country also meant to leave the gods worshipped there. Orpah was not committed to the Lord, and she was willing to lose the relationship with Naomi, whom she loved, for a life she could predict. Verses 16 and 17 are two of my favorites. As a matter of fact, they were featured in my wedding. In these verses, Ruth not only commits to Naomi, but she states her unwavering faith in God, leaving all other gods behind, and clinging to Him, trusting that He has a plan for Naomi and her.
It is interesting to me that we never hear from Orpah again. Maybe she did go back and remarry, or maybe she lived a sad but safe life in her familiar circumstances. We may never know. What we do know is Ruth was redeemed by God’s man and birthed Obed their son, who became the grandfather of King David, selected by the Lord to deliver His people, and become the seed of Christ. Wow, what a legacy of faith!
God uses people who will trust Him, and He blesses people who will commit to Him rather than what they can see. I pray I can remember this when I experience challenging circumstances, and remember to be more like Ruth and less like Orpah.
About the writer:
Pam is Director of Women to Women Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.