September 18, 2023

From Bitterness to Hope

Ruth 1:8-22

Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

—  Ruth 1:22

It is not always easy for people to return to their hometown. Old memories, past mistakes, and expectations can make things complicated.

Naomi returned from Moab full of disappointment and bitterness. For her, moving to Moab had brought death, loss, and heartache. And she reacted as many of us do: she blamed God for her troubles. Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s loving hand when we are faced with hardship.

As Naomi returned, however, she was not alone. Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, had chosen to join her, saying, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth, an outsider, went to find a new home in Bethlehem—a place among people whose God she had known only from a distance (see v. 15).

As we see later in this story, God can redeem our emptiness just as he can accept our first steps toward him in faith. Though Naomi’s outlook is bleak at this point, God’s Word offers a glimpse of hope: the harvest is coming. God will make Bethlehem a place of blessing. And the wonders God works there will bless Naomi and Ruth—and eventually the whole world. Many years later, a descendant of their family would become the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1). God promises to bring blessing to all who find their home in Jesus. Shall we take that step toward him today?

Lord, help us to see beyond our bitter struggles to the promises we have in you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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