"Trials reveal the true nature of our faith." In a review of the first chapter of Ruth, Equipping Pastor Blake Holmes shares some of the insights he has gained while, like the characters in this passage, living through a period of "famine," and relying on the Lord to sustain him and his family. When we face these times, can we really believe that He will meet all of our needs?
A Faith Rewarded
Covered by Grace
Under the Lord's Wing
Faith in Times of Famine
It was this time last year that, those of you who have heard a little bit about my story, we had recently found out that my son, who was 4 years old at the time, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At 4 years old, on June 21, I got that phone call that no daddy would ever want to receive.
The doctor on the other end tells us that it's not mono, it's not some other viral infection, but in fact it's something much worse, that the blood tests are irregular. Your little boy has cancer. I've spoken about this previously. Many of you are familiar with the story. He is now 5 years old and he is doing really well, but at that time, I can remember just wondering, "Where are you, Lord? I'm struggling."
We were just able to celebrate the Fourth of July together. Since it's been one year now, I'm kind of playing this game in my mind. I can't help but go back to think, "This time last year we were…" and I fill in the blank. This time last year, I think about little Gage, and it was just after we've celebrated the Fourth of July that he quickly returned back to the hospital, struggling just to know what was next.
His immune system was compromised. He essentially didn't have an immune system. He was quarantined to one room for fear of what he could pick up. We didn't know what his prognosis was. The doctors just said, "It's going to take several weeks before we see how his body responds to the chemotherapy. There are a lot of factors there before we can give you a prognosis."
There was a long time… This time last year, I just remember that hole in my chest, just almost an inability to breathe, just spiraling. Wondering, "Oh, Lord, what's going to happen? I'm scared to death." This year has been a real time of testing for me and for my family and loved ones. There are some things which I'm really happy about, and I'm so pleased that I can tell you, one year looking back, that I believe more than ever…more than ever…that this book right here is the Word of God.
I believe that. It's not a book that's just filled with stories and myths and things that make us feel good. This book right here truly has the power to change lives. This book speaks of a God. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is real. I know it to be true. I feel like I'm like the blind man who was spoken of in the book of John where he just goes, "…though I was blind, now I see."
There are some things I know that I can't explain, but I am more convinced than ever that Jesus Christ is who he says he is. I know it. He is the hope of the world, and he loves me. I love him. But there are some things I will tell you, I hate to admit. This trial, this famine, if you will, revealed some things to me that I really don't like to see.
The first thing it helped me to see that I hate to admit is just how much I've taken for granted. I mean, just watch your little boy's health be stripped away from you and you recognize how much for so long you tend to take for granted. I did that. I take so much for granted. This community of faith right here, this book which I speak of, the Lord's love, the clothes I wear, the food, the meals, the provision of living in this great country, and the health of my family. I have taken so much for granted for way too long.
I recognized as well over this past year that before Gage was sick that, as much as I hate to admit it, even though I tried, I just couldn't empathize. I really could not empathize to the degree I can now with others who are suffering. If people tell me stories now, I'm just crying like a baby. There's just something in me that has changed. I think the Lord chipped away, just working on my heart, and helping me be more in tune with the struggles and the pain so many people feel.
It's not that you have to go through tragedy to learn how to empathize; it's just that's how hard my heart was. The Lord has used it to show me some things that need to change. Sometimes I'm just too consumed with self, my need for control, and my need for comfort. Those are just the dark things that this trial of this past year. I could go on and on as revealed.
There are some good things that I sit there and I go, "Man, you just strip everything away and I believe this." On the other hand, there are some things that are revealed and I go, "Man, I have work to do." God is still doing a work in my heart. My question for you is I know that not everyone in here feels like these days are the happiest days of your life. You're coming in here and you're going through your own trial, your famine, if you will.
We're going to talk about a famine the family is going to experience here in the book of Ruth. Maybe it's not necessarily sickness or disease, but it could be a famine of loneliness or finances or spiritual doubt or dryness. It could be unemployment. The list goes on. I get it! We're in different places, and we come in with a burden that we feel.
We are just sitting there wondering, "Okay, Lord. I've been waiting for you and I'm not sure what the prognosis is going to be, but it'd be great for this pit in my stomach to be taken away, for you to alleviate it." My argument for you today is this: famines reveal the true nature of our faith.Famines reveal the true nature of our faith.
If you want to know how good you are as an athlete, how fast you can run, go out to the track, get a timer, let somebody time you, and time yourself. You will find out just how good you are. A race will determine your speed. If you want to know how well you'll do in a classroom, you take a test and that will tell you how well you've mastered the material.
I will tell you spiritually, you want to know where you are, the true nature of your faith, man you'll discover that during a time of famine. You'll discover it during a time of trial. Because trials determine the true nature of our faith. That's going to be my argument today based on the book of Ruth. There's a little book that's often neglected.
Quite frankly, I've read it several times before, but perhaps I would never have chosen to teach from it until after I'd gone through a year and experienced one like I did, just because I'd sit there and I'd go, "Man, I hear of this little woman who is just plagued by grief. Man, my heart breaks." I read her story with more interest now.
So turn with me to the book of Ruth. It's a story about a mother's worst nightmare. This mother's name is Naomi. In Ruth 1… We're going to spend four weeks here in this little book. This one chapter can be divided in three parts. The first one is Naomi's loss. We're going to talk about what her famine was. She experienced a literal famine to where the earth dried up and there was drought. There was no provision of food and crops and agriculture.
That is true, but there is something far worse than that. We're going to talk about Naomi's loss in the first five verses. Then Naomi's offer and Naomi's grief in verses 19-21. Naomi's loss, her offer, and then her grief. I'm going to read the first five verses to you. When you read it, it's kind of like introductory material.
It's easy to read and just kind of go, "Yeah, get to the story." That's how I tend to kind of read through the preamble, if you will, of a book. I just read and then, "All right, get to the meat of it." But if we don't stop to unpack what's written here in these first five verses, we're going to miss a lot. Let's look at verses 1 through 5. It says this.
"Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were…"
Write this down expecting mothers, you're going to love these names. They're biblical names. They're going to make you sound spiritual. "…Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there." Let me just stop before we get too far. We just went over the time, the people, and the place.
I just want to add color to what appears to be a real black and white TV. We have a long list of names and places we're not familiar with, but the writer just told us that this book takes place; the story takes place during the time of the judges. Now if we had a chance, I'd tell you, "Go back, and read the book that precedes this one. The time of the judges."
Given the fact that we can't do that… That book is summarized in one verse, the final verse of Judges. Judges 21, verse 25, which says, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." In other words, this is a time of spiritual rebellion. "…everyone did what was right in his own eyes." There was no regard for God's will, his Word, his plan, or his purposes. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. The result of that…
What you see through this book are seven cycles of where things are just spinning out of control where the people sin against God, they rebel against him and God, because he cannot bless our rebellion and because he loves us, he disciplined his people, and he said, "You people have to remember my Word. If you continue to fail to remember that my way is the best way then, man, I'm going to discipline you like a father disciplines his son." God would raise up an adversary who would come and oppress the people. Of course they would cry out in supplication.
Then God would raise up that deliverer. Then everything would be just fine, and the people would become complacent. Then there was silence. You see this cycle seven times in the book of Judges where the people rebelled against God, then things get tough and then they need God, "Okay, now I need you, Lord." Then you run to him. Then God blesses them. Then they become complacent. Then over and over and over again. Finally, the book just ends and goes, "…everyone did what was right in his own eyes." It was a time of rebellion.
This is the dark spot in God's people's history, Israel's history. Especially when you consider that God's purpose for them is found in Exodus 19, verses 5 and 6. It says this. "'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
The purpose of the nation of Israel in God's mind was to set apart this group of people, the descendants of Abraham. They were to be a kingdom of priests. They were to be a light in the dark world…holy, set apart. The way they dressed, the way they married, the way they related to God, their worship. Everything about them was to be distinct and different. Much like we're to be distinct, we're to be different, salt and light as Jesus says.
As his church, his body, in a dark world where everybody does what is right in their own eyes we are to be different. The way we live our lives, the way we relate to one another, the way we confess sin, the way we humble ourselves before each other, the way we conduct ourselves at work, how we entertain ourselves, all those things should set us apart from those who profess not to know the Lord.
We should be ruled by what it says, but the people failed to do that, and they neglected the God who led them out of bondage. We read in the book of Deuteronomy what the Lord said if this was going to happen. The book of Deuteronomy says this in the first six verses of chapter 28. "Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."
"Walk with me, Israel. Trust me and I will bless you so abundantly. Your kids will be blessed, your country will be blessed, and all the earth will know that you are my treasured people." "But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl."
It's just the opposite of what he said would come with blessing. In verse 23 it says, "The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron." In other words, there will be no rain. There will be no fruit and your people will be desperate because I'm not going to continue to associate my holy name with a people who are far from me, who continue to stiffen their necks and rebel against me.
This is a time… This story takes place in a spiritual drought and agricultural famine. It's a sad time. We're not only introduced to the time period, but we're introduced to the people. There's a family whose father's name is Elimelech and the mother's name Naomi. Elimelech literally means my God is King, and Naomi means pleasant. They have two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Mahlon's name… How do you like this? His name means unhealthy and Chilion, puny.
They literally named him Tiny. How do you like that? I think my brothers called me that in another way when I was younger. But Elimelech, my God is King, and Naomi, pleasant. This little family who live in Bethlehem, which literally means house of bread. Bethlehem is a city in this place called Judah which means praise. My God is King and Pleasant from the House of Bread and Praise leave there.
Note the irony. There is no bread. They leave there to go to the land of Moab. Moab doesn't have much meaning to us, but the Moabites were descendents of Abraham's nephew Lot who had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. They refused to let Israel pass through their land during the times of the Exodus. They oppressed Israel in the time of the Judges. They are an enemy of Israel.
The Lord refers to Moab as my washbowl twice in the book of Psalms. My washbowl. This is my garbage heap. This is where I clean my dishes. You have God's people who leave the Promised Land, who leave the covenant community. We can't blame them, but they look over here and they look at another nation, the enemy of God's people, and they go, "Man, something seems to be happening over there," so they go over there to find food.
It seems to be the right thing to do, but as I shared with you, trials reveal the true nature of our faith, do they not? My question for you on that premise is this: Do you believe the Lord is able to meet your needs during times of famine or do you tend to run away and to take matters into your own hands?
What was true of Naomi's family is they were called to live in the Promised Land, to be a part of the covenant community, and to trust the Lord that he will provide even in a time of famine. They weren't to forsake God's people or to leave that land, but they chose to leave because it's what seemed to be right in their own eyes, and they left.
What's true of us? Do we trust the Lord during times of famine, during times of trial? Do we go to him in prayer, humble ourselves, and continue to pray even though when we strike the ground it just seems dry? Do we believe that the God who is able to speak this world into existence, who is able to lead the nation of Israel by cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, provide water from the rock, manna each day during a barren land of dryness?
Do we believe he could care for us? Do we trust in his Word? Do we gather in community and say, "Hey, look, I'm tempted to do what is right in my own eyes during this time of trial, but I need your help. I need the help of God's people. I don't want to isolate. I don't want to run away." Do we continue to live in obedience? I get it.
When the times of famine come, we're tempted to run away. Just to be real specific, I hear of friends who they're battling loneliness. As the saying goes, "Always a bridesmaid; never a bride." Right? I understand the cry and the pain of the heart that says, "Hey, look, I have been waiting, and I have been faithful. Now it's time to take matters into my own hands.
It feels like I'm in a famine. I see friends getting married. It seems like they have the life that I've always wanted. So it went from when I was young and in my early 20s, 'I'm going to marry a man who is going to lead my home, who loves Jesus, is a leader in the church.' Somehow when I get in my late 20s, what happens is, 'I'm going to marry a man who knows the Lord. If he's a leader, that's okay. God will make him a leader.'
Then I get in my 30s and now I'm just happy if he goes to church. In my late 30s, now I'm just, 'He grew up in church. I'm going to take matters into my own hands. I'm going to marry somebody.'" We laugh at that. That's a very practical example of what tends to happen. Times of famine, times of trial, we don't trust the Lord. We run away and take matters into our own hands. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
I have to tell you, last summer was my greatest time of testing. Day after day, week after week to sit in that hospital room and to watch them load my son with chemotherapy and watch that little body change. He was just a ghost of who he was. At night, my wife would sleep on the couch over here, pregnant with our fourth; the nurses are coming in and out. I would just lay there awake and I'd just look at my son, look at my wife. Those questions would riddle my mind.
"Hey, Blake, do you believe that I'm able to take care of you during this time of famine? It's one thing to talk about it on Sunday. Man, I'm asking you, do you believe that I can take care of you? Are you going to be tempted to take matters into your own hands? Are you going to run away?" Things get worse for this family. You read in verses 3 through 5 it says this.
"Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband."
Man. Whose heart doesn't break for this woman Naomi? Now she is in a foreign place, her husband and her two children have passed away, and her daughters-in-law are now the two who remain. What does she do? She says, "It's time for me to go home. I have to go back to the place where I've come." Look with me in verses 6-14. It says this.
"Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah." Now notice how many times Naomi is going to tell them in her offer to her daughters-in-law, "Return, go home, leave me, go back to the land of Moab."
"And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.' Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
And they said to her, 'No, but we will surely return with you to your people.' But Naomi said, 'Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown?
Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.'** And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her."She clung to her.
Naomi's offer was for them to go back, "Don't stay with me anymore," and Orpah, she chose just to do that. She looked at the world around her and she said, "It makes the most sense for me to leave you. I love you, but I have to go back." And, practically, it did make more sense. Just as crass as it sounds, Naomi was of no value to her.
Widows were without property rights in the ancient world, and even though God decided that the next of kin would care for her, Naomi didn't have anyone in Moab and didn't know of any relatives back in Judah. She was alone, with no promise of hope or a future. She was alone. I understand. I get it why Orpah left. Even if Naomi were to remarry, Orpah couldn't wait for her to have a son and then wait to marry him.
Also, Orpah was a Moabite. It's a disliked people group. What is she going to do? Is she going to leave Moab and go to the land of Judah, go to Bethlehem where she knows the people don't really care for her? It made sense, practically speaking. As much as I'm sure she hated to do it, she kissed Naomi, and she left.
As I've just made my way through this little book and I've had to put myself in their shoes. I'm sitting here and I'm thinking, "Trials reveal the true nature of our faith." I'm compelled to ask, "Do I rely upon what is practical to be my guide during times of famine or do I live by faith in the Lord's ability to care for me?"
Do you rely upon what is practical to be your guide during times of famine or do you live by faith? Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." I get it. During times of famine where it feels like God is far from us, where we are not on the recipient of God's blessing, we just seem to go, "All right.
We'll just live on what seems to be the most practical during financial stress or heartache. Let's just do what is practical. It doesn't seem practical to give God the firstfruits of my labor. Let's just do what seems right to us. Let's not submit ourselves to what Scripture would have to say during a time of famine and economic depression. What's practical?"
Orpah did what was practical. There you have this contrast though with Ruth who embodies faithfulness. You have this backdrop of spiritual drought in the nation of Israel. These people have turned against God. You have Orpah, who said, "Naomi, I love you, but I'm out of here. There just doesn't seem to be a future with you. I have to go." Then you have Ruth who is faced with the same choice. Notice what she says. Verses 15 through 18:
"Then she [Naomi] said, 'Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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 I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.' When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her."
Ruth loved Naomi, but more importantly, Ruth right here has a profession of faith, that Ruth loved the God of Naomi's people. She loved Naomi's God and she trusted in the God of Israel. It's her faithfulness that contrasts with Orpah's. Orpah represents those who have a said faith, but when trials and famines come, they quickly depart. As opposed to Ruth, and she clung to Naomi.
She represents those who place their faith in Christ and are forever a part of his family. To tip my hand a little bit here and see how this story is going to unfold, I will tell you that Ruth will be well taken care of as a result of her choice, as a result of her faith, her step of faith right here.
If we were to fast-forward quickly and we get to the book of Matthew, chapter 1. What does it open with? It opens up with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, who is in the line of the family tree of our Savior. If you look at Matthew 1 and you, as we tend to do, just see a bunch of names, look closely.
We see right there in Matthew 1:5, "Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse," who was the father of David, the great king of Israel who ends up being the father of Jesus. She makes an incredible choice. Her faithfulness stands in stark contrast to the lack of faithfulness of those around her. This Moabite woman whom we would not expect places her faith in the God of Israel. Trials reveal the true nature of our faith.
Question: Do you fail to consider how the Lord could use your trial for his glory and the good of others or do you see your trials as an opportunity to make an impact? Second Corinthians 1 says this: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Do you know that this church, the testimony of the folks in this church, how you encouraged me during my time of famine? I can look around and I can see small group leaders, Celebrate Recovery leaders, folks diving into marriages, people of faith. They look around, and their famine is all around them, and it seems as if everything in this world has betrayed them yet they continue to trust and march on.
Man, I would sit there and just think about families who are struggling with infertility, folks who are struggling with loneliness and continue to remain faithful, and because of the God of comfort who comforted them, they would turn and comfort me. I remember the night when Gage was diagnosed. I remember Todd told me something. I hated it when he said this. I really did. I've never told him this.
He said to me, "Blake, the Lord must trust you." Oh, man. All I wanted the Lord to do was to say, "This was a mistake!" I wanted the doctors to come in and just go, "Whoa! We were wrong!" I did not want to live in this famine. I didn't want to consider how the Lord could use me. I just wanted my son to be well. That's all I wanted. I remember sitting up there on that floor day after day.
I would just look around at other rooms and man, there are so many people up there far from God and they don't have hope and they don't have a community of faith around them. You talk about despair. We're putting out chairs outside of my room that God's people could just come and as I walked out the door, they would just cry with me, put their arms around me. We'd walk by rooms where people… Man, my heart would just break for them.
It was one night. I just remember it. Todd's words, "The Lord must trust you, Blake." I just sat there, and I just thought like Jonah, "I just want out!" The Lord convicted me and just said, "Hey, have you ever stopped to consider that you're going to be my hands and my feet on the tenth floor at Children's Medical Center?" "I don't want to be your hands and feet. I just want my son well, but I'll come back and be your hands and feet." Trials reveal the true nature of our faith. I had a real question to answer right then, as I do even now.
Can I stop and get out of my circumstances and go, "Oh, man. Maybe the Lord is sovereign. Despite this hell I'm living through, he intends to use me right here. Maybe I am supposed to be the voice for that little boy next door who lost his leg at 2 years old and that mom who is really hurting. Maybe I'm supposed to have the responsibility. Maybe I'm supposed to see my trials as an opportunity to make an eternal impact."
Then you see Naomi's grief in verses 19-21. It says, "So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, 'Is this Naomi?'" She comes back years later. "Is this Pleasant? Has she come home?" Verse 20. "She said to them, 'Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?'"
Trials reveal the true nature of our faith. I can't blame Naomi. I'm not trying to throw her under the bus. I understand why she was bitter. I understand why she was hurting. I understand her grief. I get it. These are real people, real people. Even though she loved the Lord, she was bitter and she was hurting and she was grieving. Trials reveal the true nature of our faith.
Question: Do you grow bitter toward the Lord during times of famine or do you trust in his goodness and his sovereignty regardless of your circumstances? Psalm 31:19 says, "How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!"
You see, we can allow our sickness, we can allow our circumstances to affect our view of God's character, or we can trust in the bedrock of Scripture. We are people who are supposed to live by faith, by faith. Sometimes we look at the world around us; it doesn't seem to make sense. Ruth had no idea how this story was going to unfold, but she lived by faith.
She followed this widow to a land that was foreign to her because she came to trust in this widow's God, the one true God. She lived by faith. The Lord, as we will see, will reward her faith. She didn't live just by what she saw. She didn't judge God just by circumstances. She lived by faith. There was a little helpful illustration that some of you are familiar with.
It's a little train on a page. You have the engine, which is the first car, which represents truth. Then you have this coal car, which represents faith. Then you have the caboose, which represents feelings. I've seen this illustration before, but boy it really does preach when you're on the tenth floor. There is truth to guide your car. This coal car in the middle, which represents faith, you can either put your faith in the truth of what Scripture says or you can put your faith in the caboose and how you feel.
When you do that, when you put it in how you feel, your train will go off the track. Because circumstances change, but there is a conductor in this engine who is trustworthy. He loves you. He gives you the truth of his Word. He gives you a community of people, his Spirit to have relationship with, and he guides us.
Do we grow bitter toward the Lord during times of famine or do we continue to trust in his goodness? Tomorrow I'm going to take Gage to clinic. It's the day I dread. I hate the Sunday before he has to go and have this procedure. He'll go and have chemo put into his spine, they'll put him to sleep, they'll inject chemo in his spine, and they'll put it in his side. He'll take more orally this week. It's going to be a tough week.
Gage is blessed. He is doing far better than some of those we're going to see in that clinic tomorrow. I will go, and my circumstances around me, they will suggest that God is asleep at the wheel, but the truth of this Word right here will say otherwise. One of the physicians looked at me and just goes, "Look around. No, I don't believe there is a God."
I said, "Look around and you'll see God's people, you'll see his Spirit in the midst of this famine, you'll see the resiliency of those who do know him continue to walk by faith. You don't know of the one who gave all that we could have life." This isn't it. This isn't everything. This is only half of the story. See, we live by faith in the Son of God. Second Corinthians 4 says this. Verses 7 through 18:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,' we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
We look at the things that are not seen, what is eternal. Spurgeon said this, famous preacher of long ago. "God is too good to be unkind and He is to wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace his hand, we must trust His heart." Trials reveal the true nature of our faith. This story is going to unfold and show the great faithfulness of God in the midst of our trials. What do your trials reveal about you? Let's pray.
Lord in heaven, sometimes when we're honest, Lord, it is hard for us to see your hand at work during those times of famine. The trials reveal the true nature of our faith. We are frail, feeble, and apt to faint, but the truth is, Lord, that you are good and that you are sovereign. Even in the midst of our trials…of loneliness, pain, sorrow, poor health or unemployment, or doubt…you are good.
We know that because of your Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross in our place who is the hope of the world, who by his resurrection, Lord, we know that we who trust in you, Lord, who go through these times of struggle, Lord, we know in the end that you who raised Jesus from the dead, Lord, you will fulfill our hopes, you'll fill our hearts, and you will make all things right and new again.
Thank you that what we see is not all there is but that you are doing a great work in and through us. Father, may we see these trials as an opportunity to be used by you to declare your goodness and speak of your love. May we be people who can say that we still believe. Amen.
She was a homeless foreigner, a childless widow and a pauper. By all accounts her story should have faded into obscurity thousands of years ago. Yet this short, rarely studied book of the Old Testament paints an unforgettable picture of the grace, reward, redemption and hope we can find in the Lord. It's a story of perseverance in the face of despair, joy in the midst of mourning, provision in a time of want, and restoration when hope seems futile. <br /> <br />But the story of Ruth recounts not only the tale of one woman's remarkable faith. It also foretells the much greater story of God's plan of salvation through His Son, which we are living out still today. If you find yourself in need of hope or peace, this study of Ruth's journey will encourage you to rest in the provision of Christ and the assurance that His grace is sufficient for all our needs.