Where is God when everything crumbles? Death. Poverty. Famine. Forsaken. How does God respond to those kind of situations?
Does he abandon? Does he hide? Ignore?
Scripture gives a vivid picture of what kind of God the LORD is.
Holy Bible, Old Testament, Book of Ruth. Chapter 1.
Naomi and her family left Israel for Moab. Hoping to find relief from the famine they suffered under during their time in Bethlehem. But they arrive in a foreign land and find little relief for their struggle. Her husband Elimelech dies. Elimelech is survived by two sons who take Moabite wives. Then both of Naomi’s sons die.
Naomi is left without a husband, without male descendants or adult sons to take care of her, and dwelling in a foreign land away from God’s people.
How does God respond to this kind of tragedy? What kind of God is this that we serve? Does allow cries of grief and pain to go unanswered?
The downward spiral of chapter 1 reaches rock bottom in verse 5 with a summary of her loss and desperate situation. It took only seven sentences for the author to describe the dramatic collapse of Naomi’s life.
Something changes in verse 6 that begins a slow pattern of redemption. The rapid decline of all that was good and right with Naomi begins to reverse.
Reversal #1 God visits his people and the famine comes to an end in Bethlehem. (1:6)
Reversal #2 Ruth clings to Naomi when everyone else has left. Her husband, her sons, and daughter-in-law Orpah. (1:14)
Reversal #3 The barley harvest begins. (1:22)
Reversal #4 Ruth “happens” to find her way into the field of Boaz where she is protected, gainfully employed, and brings back tons of food to Naomi. (2:3)
Reversal #5 Ruth finds a husband to continue the family line of Elimelech (and Naomi). (4:5)
Reversal #6 Naomi is holding a newborn baby boy. A male descendant has returned to the family and the once empty Naomi has been filled. (4:16)
What kind of God does this?
A God who redeems and restores the broken. A God who sees his people in need and responds.
A former professor of mine used to say:
“God’s sovereignty is not seen so much in what he prevents, but in what he restores.”
He does not abandon. He does not forsake. But God heals, restores and redeems.
P.S. If only this meant that I would see reversals in my life in the same way and in the same timeline as Naomi. But the pain and struggles that my life has encountered has yet to be redeemed. The story of Naomi doesn’t give me hope that my life will be made whole during this lifetime.
Rather, Naomi tells me that I have a God who will heal the pain and brokenness in His ultimate plan of redemption. Naomi’s story is just a taste of what redemption can look like.
So we pray, Maranatha – come Lord Jesus, come.