'The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.' Ruth 1.21
On Sunday morning we had a very precious time as we heard Ruth 1. All week this chapter has been a great source of hope and joy to my soul. This sad, crushing experience of bereavement, loneliness and hopelessness has enveloped Naomi. She has lost husband and sons, and with them any hope for a settled, enjoyable future. Her life, as far as she could see it, was a write-off. All had come to an end.
But that's not the end. The bitterness at the close of chapter 1 could be read as the final chapter in this widow's life. It is though, as we discover, the prelude to the unfolding of God's magnificent purposes, both for Naomi and Ruth, and for the entire world. The lesson in what seems like the enfolding darkness, as broken Naomi returns to Bethlehem, is this: in all of Naomi's suffering God really does have purposes, and His promises of grace which will certainly be fulfilled. Naomi has not been forgotten, and hasn't been cast off. And whatever our trials, nor have we. What was true for her is true for us, as children of the same Heavenly Father through Christ.
We forget these truths so quickly, don't we, when we suffer? And when we go through hard times we overlook the fact that God is not only the Sovereign God - Naomi knew that - but that He is also a gracious Covenant-keeping God. That means that whatever He sovereignly leads us into, He graciously preserves us in, and leads us through. This is always for His Glory, and for our growth in grace. God will see His people safely to heaven. And while He leads us there, He will refine, purify, and further His transforming work, so that Jesus might be, indeed, the firstborn of many brothers (Romans 8.29).
Matthew Henry makes these wise comments on Ruth 1.21:
'Consider that He who afflicts us is the Almighty, with Whom it is folly to contend and to Whom it is our duty and interest to submit. It is that name of God by which He enters into covenant with His people. He afflicts as a God in covenant, and His all-sufficiency may be our support and supply under all our afflictions. He that empties us of the creature knows how to fill us with Himself.'
Let's trust Him for His grace.