Ruth’s story captivates and significantly challenges many. She’s a widow from an enemy nation with no prospects. Yet, God moves so mightily in her story and uses it to encourage millions. At the beginning of the book, Ruth is living in her home in Moab; a place and people that the Israelites frowned upon. On top of that, she had lost her husband and was living with her widowed mother-in-law named Naomi. She also lost her husband without a child, some believing she may have been barren. The pain Ruth must have been in was immense but she didn’t allow her past to hold her back. We can learn many lessons from Ruth’s story, including these four.
Having faith is life-changing.
Naomi and Ruth suffered terrible misfortune: the men in their family, including both their husbands, died. Marooned in Moab, the older woman Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem. Ruth, though a Moabite herself, decided to go with her. She pledged her loyalty to Naomi and they set out on the long journey, arriving in time for the barley harvest. Ruth was poor and a foreigner, but she listened to the advice of an older, wiser woman. In turn, Naomi was rewarded by Ruth’s unfaltering loyalty. The message? Courage and ingenuity triumph over misfortune. The story of Ruth also celebrates the family and the way it continues through many generations. Ruth, a childless widow at the beginning of the story, became the great-grandmother of Israel’s great king, David. Finally, the story of Naomi’s family and the way it endured is a universal theme. Even Ruth, a foreigner from the despised Moabites, could move God’s plan toward fulfillment.
Women are heroes in the Bible.
Did you know that there are only two books of the Bible named after women? Esther and Ruth. Ruth is one of the few women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus referenced in the book of Matthew. What is significant about this is that women weren’t ordinarily included in genealogies. Many have regarded the book of Ruth as an inspiring piece of sacred literature with an important message. In this story, we see a simple Moabite widow becoming an essential character in the powerful story of salvation woven in the Bible.
There are many important figures in the Bible who are recognized for their strength and character. While many think of men first when it comes to these strong biblical figures, there are also a number of important women in the Bible, like Ruth who inspire. They do this, not only because of how they lived but also because of their rock-solid faith, even in some of the toughest of circumstances. Unfortunately, too often, women’s stories have taken second place to the interests and needs of male Biblical writers and males leaders in Christian churches, but this didn’t mean their stories weren’t important, especially in the eyes of God. By definition, a strong woman is fearless when it comes to facing hard situations. They are confident in who they are and what they believe, and in their example of fearlessness, they encourage others to be courageous and make a difference.
God keeps a careful eye on the widow.
There are 11 widows mentioned in the Bible and in both the New Testament and Hebrew Bible. Ruth and Naomi are two of them. In Scripture, widows are repeatedly the subject of miracles. God keeps a careful eye on the widow. He is profoundly concerned for her, together with the stranger and the fatherless. He is righteous and protects them for He is “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows…in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). The incarnate Son of God is like him. He cared for His widowed mother. The Bible tells us, “Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-30). He also raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain and returned him to his mother (Luke 7:11-17), and, in the spirit of the prophets, condemned those who took advantage of widows (Matthew 23:24).
While many widows can relate to Ruth’s story, it’s a story so many can connect with. The fact that Ruth and other widows are mentioned in the Bible indicates that God is close to those who have experienced loss. It also indicates that those who experience loss still have God walking with them. Miracles are still possible, even in the midst of loss.
The ordinary can do the extraordinary work of God.
What is so fascinating about Ruth’s story is the fact that she’s just an ordinary woman. Maybe this is why so many are drawn to her story and find it so compelling. She may not come from a famous family. She also may not have great wealth or position. She’s simply a widow from an enemy nation. Yet, she’s brave and her faith doesn’t waver. A woman who has nothing has a story that becomes so important that it is mentioned in the Bible and her name is recognized in the lineage of Jesus. How incredible is that?
Ruth showed remarkable faith for such a young believer. Faith that there was still a purpose for her ahead. Faith to believe that God was who He said He was. And faith to believe that God would provide for her and Naomi. Her bravery, faith and obedience can encourage us to be better followers of Christ.