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Hope for the Hopeless

Advent 2020: December 12
Hope for the Hopeless Hero Image Hope for the Hopeless Hero Image
Scripture:

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’ And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

“So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’

“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

“Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you.’ Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose young woman is this?’ And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, ‘She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.’

“Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.’” (Ruth 1:16-2:9)

Devotion:

Have you ever been in a situation so difficult that you couldn’t see how it could possibly get better?

Naomi experienced something like that. It all started with a great famine in Israel. Hungry and hoping to find food and a better life, Naomi and her family left their home in Bethlehem and traveled to the foreign land of Moab. Once there, Naomi’s situation got even more difficult. Her husband died, and then her only two sons died. Now she was left alone, far from home, and hopeless. In her despair, Naomi told her widowed daughters-in-law that “the Almighty has brought calamity upon me.” She believed God was punishing her.

However, Ruth loved her mother-in-law Naomi, and chose to go with her to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem to care for her. Even though Ruth was not an Israelite, she chose to live there and love and serve the God of Israel. Although Naomi and Ruth were both widows during a time when there were very few job opportunities for unmarried women, Ruth trusted that God had a plan to protect and provide for them.

Once they arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, Naomi’s relative, had compassion on Naomi and Ruth. He protected them, made sure they had food, and was obedient to God’s plan by marrying Ruth. They had a son, which brought great joy to Naomi (Ruth 4:13-17). Naomi’s situation seemed hopeless, but God used Boaz and Ruth’s love, compassion, and obedience to provide hope, a new family, and a future for her.

But that is not all. God provided hope for all of us! Ruth and Boaz are the great-grandparents of King David (Matthew 1:5-6), which means they are also the direct ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:16). The town they lived in, Bethlehem, was even the same place Jesus would be born years later.

Just like God redeemed Naomi, He had a plan to redeem the whole world through His Son, Jesus. God is always working, even in difficult circumstances, and He always has a plan for us.

Questions:
  1. Have you ever felt (as Naomi did) that God was against you, or that He had forgotten you? How did that turn out?
  2. How does this story give you hope, even when things may seem hopeless?
  3. Think about a time when you had to trust God, not knowing what would happen. How did God remind you that He is faithful?
Family Activity:

Draw a picture of wheat on your ornament to remind you that God sees our needs and always provides for us, just like Boaz did for Ruth and Naomi. Talk about how God has provided for your family in both big and little ways. Brainstorm ways you can share God’s provision with others so you can show them what it looks like to be part of God’s family!