Finding Rainbows

"Aviator" Seth Thibodaux. Jeske Sculpture Park, Ferguson, MO

And I will hold up hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will mend my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

She Reads Truth has been doing a study on the book of Ruth the past two weeks. Quite frankly, I have been slacking in the area of Bible Study the past few months. I realize it's mainly because I have been selfish with my time. I haven't had any desire or energy to give any of it to God. A lot of it is because I haven't felt like doing much of anything in this phase of my life (not an excuse, just a fact) and some of it is that my kids have needed extra attention (which may be related, who knows). My friend recently encouraged a group of us to do the Ruth study together. Knowing that I needed that encouragement and direction in my life, I decided to take the two week challenge on.

If you aren't familiar with the story, the beginning is pretty much a downer. There is this woman who is from Israel, named Naomi, who moves to Moab with her husband and two sons because there is a famine (aka no soup for you) in Israel. Once they got to Moab, Naomi's husband dies. At least she has her sons, right? Well after her sons got hitched to Moabite women and they have lived in Moab for about ten years, they also die. All Naomi has to her name, as a stranger in a foreign country, are her two daughters in law. The women insist they are going to stay with Naomi, but Naomi has other plans. She tells them that God's hand is against her and she is going to return to Israel, but that they should return to their family. One daughter in law takes her up on that deal, but the other, Ruth (probably not a shocker since they did name a whole book after her), tells her that she would stay in the most beautiful way:

"Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."
Ruth 1:16-18

To make a long story short, Naomi and Ruth return to Israel to Bethlehem (where Jesus -much later- just happened to be born). Ruth ends up getting hitched to one of Naomi's relatives, Boaz, who is her kinsmen redeemer (It's actually a beautiful story. You can read it in it's entirety here).

Today's reading was about God blessing Ruth with a child. In this part of the story Naomi comes full circle. Earlier when she returned to Bethlehem she told the women of the town to call her Mara, because God had made her life bitter (Ruth 2:20). Now these same women are blessing her because of what God has done for her. They praise God because he has provided Boaz to redeem their family. They also pray that God will renew her life and sustain her with old age. They proclaim that Ruth has loved Naomi and is better than seven sons - which was amazing for that time considering sons were considered the bee's knees. (Ruth 4:13-15) 

As I was reading this today I couldn't help but think of my own tragedy and loss. Growing up I heard this story a million times and always judged Naomi because of how the grief affected her. I did not realize at that time, that she was doing what people naturally do when they lose everyone that is near and dear to them. I lost a daughter, but Naomi had lost two sons and a husband (not to minimize my own loss because it really sucked). She had every right to ask that they call her Mara, while she was processing and dealing with her grief. 

But as God promises, His mercies are new every morning. 

"Mjolnir" Durant Thompson. Jeske Sculpture Park, Ferguson, MO
So, God gave Naomi a grandson. But the women of the town do not call him that. They announce, "Naomi has a son." (Ruth 4:17) They say he is her son. God restored to Naomi the sons and husband that she had lost in a daughter in law, named Ruth, a new son in law, named Boaz and a grandson, who they named Obed. 

Obed was Naomi's Rainbow Baby

For all intents and purposes, Obed was Naomi's rainbow baby. After she had lost her sons and husband, this rainbow baby was the promise to her that God was faithful. That God loved her. That even in the most difficult, hardest circumstances, through the storm and through the rain, he always had a plan. She felt like he had walked away from her and she was bitter (rightly so), but now she could look down on a glorious rainbow in the face of her grandson. 

My Rainbow Baby
I don't know where you are at today in your journey with your grief and suffering. I don't pretend to know the weight you bear. I do pray that in Naomi and Ruth's story you can find hope, even in the most dismal, awful circumstances. And if you can't (because I have so been there), cling to the fact that someday, even if it takes weeks, months, or (in my case) years, you will. 

"Just as redemption was in God's plan for Naomi, so is it in God's plan for us. 

Down the bloodline from Boaz and Ruth and Obed is our Redeemer, Jesus. In Christ, there is no such thing as a story beyond redemption. There is only resurrection, restoration, and rejoicing, even in the most unlikely of  circumstances and with the most unlikely of subjects. 

If you're wondering today if the Lord has left you, and the idea of redemption at this point feels impossible, hold fast to the promise that we see in Ruth and Naomi's journey. Nothing is too much, too big, or too scary for our Savior. God has not walked away from you. He's done the opposite. He has drawn near to you through his Son, Jesus."
Andrea Lucado


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