Once upon a time—it was back in the days when judges led Israel— there was a famine in the land. A man from Bethlehem in Judah left home to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The man's name was Elimelech; his wife's name was Naomi; his sons were named Mahlon and Kilion—all Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They all went to the country of Moab and settled there.
Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons. The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years. But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband. –Ruth 1:1-5
I’m in a bible study this year about Ruth. Now we haven’t gotten far yet, but I’ve read the story of Ruth more than once. It’s a good one, for sure! Actually, I almost didn’t go to the bible study again this semester until God nudged me through a post card. Lol. I got this card in the mail that detailed what the upcoming study was on and why you should be there. In it, it talks about reaching those who have dealt with loss to name just one of the many things it
said. I knew then that I had to go back.
We, of course, are starting at the beginning and working our way through all 4 chapters of the book of Ruth. When you read through those first 5 verses, it seems like the writer is
just glossing over the fact that 1.Elimelech and Naomi left home and moved to
Moab 2.their sons married Moabites though God expressly forbids it 3.Elimelech
dies and 4.her sons die too! While I’ve read this story over and over again, it always bugged me that the writer never goes into more detail about all those negatives. How did Naomi deal with the fact that her husband had died? Why did he die? Was he sick? Did he eat some bad
grain or something? Did they ever say anything to their boys about the wives they were choosing? And why did the sons die then, too?
The human part of me longs to know how everything went down and how these women dealt with their loss. Did they sink into a deep depression? Did they feel lost in a pit? Did they feel like God had abandoned them or did they draw closer to him?
It wasn’t until I really started studying this chapter with my bible study and then went on to write this post that I got my answer. At least, it’s the answer that I think makes the most sense. And here it is:
The writer doesn’t go into detail about all of that negativity in the beginning because the story isn’t about all of that! Sure, those things made these women who they were and lead them to where they are going in later chapters of this book, but they aren’t what this particular story is about!
You know, that reminds me of my oldest son. He’s 12. We could have an amazing day doing all of his favorite things-playing games, going out to eat at his favorite restaurant, hanging out as a family, whatever. But, one bad thing happens (he gets in trouble for something or his brother breaks something that belongs to him) and he immediately declares that “this is the worst day ever!” And what is he doing? He’s dwelling on one negative thing in his life that doesn’t ultimately define his day!
I guess my point today is this: don’t dwell on the negative things that happen in life. We live in
an imperfect world where bad things are going to happen. The negative things may help shape you, but they don’t have to define you!