I’ve been learning and speaking about Surviving a Crisis. Our nation is in one. Many people are having one. You can survive, and even thrive, during a crisis. An ancient true story proves it.
Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and God are the main characters in the Old Testament Bible story simply called Ruth. Each character’s words and actions teach a lesson that will help us know how to survive a crisis. From Naomi we learn that we should Beware of Bitterness (Chapter 1). Ruth demonstrates that we should Learn Faithfulness (1:16-18; 2:1-3, 12). Boaz’ treatment of Ruth shows us we can Accept Deliverance (Chapters 2-4). And throughout the story we are encouraged to Trust God’s Providence.
- Beware of Bitterness (Naomi)
- Learn Faithfulness (Ruth)
- Accept Deliverance (Boaz)
- Trust God’s Providence (God)
God’s providence is His activity in the course of the world, natural events, and human affairs, to direct all circumstances and people to fulfill His purpose on the earth and in eternity.
Last night I pointed out several examples from Ruth of circumstances that show we can or in which we should Trust God’s Providence. These include:
- Directions – Elimilech moved his family away from Israel. Naomi and Ruth later returned to Israel. Crisis awaited in both directions. Yet God’s purpose was fulfilled through these moves. The direction your life has taken is part of His plan for you.
- Perceptions – Naomi’s perception of God’s activity in her circumstances was that God was against her, that she was a victim (1:13, 21). We should trust God’s providence regardless of how we or others perceive our circumstances.
- Locations – 2:3 says that Ruth “happened to happen” on a part of a field that belonged to Boaz, who happened to be very rich, sort of related, and totally eligible! In the providence of God, a crisis can put you in the right place at the right time to receive the greatest blessing of your life!
- Decisions – We see these all through the story. Elimilech, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz all made decisions that affected other people. Other people make decisions that affect your life. Even when their decisions hurt you, or you do not agree with them, you can trust that God is using their decisions to accomplish His purpose.
- Conversations – These are throughout the story also. God even uses our casual communication with one another to accomplish His will.
- Transactions – Chapter 4 relates Boaz’ legal transaction with the other eligible kinsman-redeemer. The other kinsman relinquished his opportunity to purchase property and take responsibility for Ruth. Boaz formally “bought” the property and the woman. God acts providentially through our transactions as well, including contracts, accepted/rejected offers, purchases, elections, marriages, divorces, adoptions, and more.
- Conception – 4:13 clearly states of Ruth, “The Lord gave her conception.” Both having and not having children is determined by God’s providence. Remember our theme is Surviving a Crisis.
- For a married couple, childlessness is a crisis. It is one of the most painful experiences a couple can have. Proverbs 30:15-16 identifies the “barren womb” as one of the four things in the world that are never satisfied. A childless couple must wrestle with and surrender to the providence of God. They can learn to be satisfied in Him alone. God also often uses this experience to direct the couple toward adopting children. Certainly this is His providential way of caring for these needy lives and bringing precious souls into His family.
- Childrearing is also a crisis! While having children is filled with blessings and joy, it also involves uncertainty and disaster unless we make correct decisions and take proper action as parents. The daily challenges, discipline issues, different stages of childhood and teen years, varying personalities of our children, and very serious problems they encounter or bring upon themselves all require us to trust God’s providence continually. Our children belong to God, and they are ultimately responsible to God. He is active in their individual lives, directing their circumstances to accomplish His purpose.
- Generations – At the end of the story (4:18-23) we find out that Boaz and Ruth, through successive generations, become the great-grandparents of David, the one who became King of Israel, to whom God made the promise that a descendant of his would reign in Israel forever! You may play a role as a parent that is part of God’s providential plan that will be fulfilled in a future generation. You won’t know anything about the long-range plan until eternity! This truth challenges us to be faithful in our responsibilities and to trust God’s providence.
- Redemption – Matthew 1:1-6, 15-16 show us that Boaz and Ruth, through the line of David, were the ancestors of none other than Jesus Christ, the Savior. God used this couple to accomplish His purpose for redeeming sinful people, and for exalting His Son forever as Lord.
Trust God’s providence. Believe, be content, and be thankful that God is active through all the circumstances and people in your life, accomplishing His purpose for His glory.
Here followes some verses upon the burning of our house, July 10th, 1666.
By Anne Bradstreet
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow neer I did not look,
I waken’d was with thundring nois
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice.
That fearfull sound of fire and fire,
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Distresse
And not to leave me succourlesse.
Then coming out beheld a space,
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so ’twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.
He might of All justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleasant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.
No pleasant tale shall ‘ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle ‘ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adieu, Adeiu; All’s vanity.
Then streight I gin my heart to chide,
And didst thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye
That dunghill mists away may flie.
Thou hast an house on high erect
Fram’d by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent tho’ this bee fled.
It’s purchased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to doe.
A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther’s wealth enough, I need no more;
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Treasure lyes Above.