1 There was a time when Israel didn’t have kings to rule over them. But they had leaders to help them. This is a story about some things that happened during that time. There wasn’t enough food in the land of Judah. So a man went to live in the country of Moab for a while. He was from Bethlehem in Judah. His wife and two sons went with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech. His wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went to Moab and lived there. 3 Naomi’s husband Elimelech died. So she was left with her two sons. 4 They got married to women from Moab. One was named Orpah. The other was named Ruth. Naomi’s family lived in Moab for about ten years. 5 Then Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
I have always loved the book of Ruth and the beauty of the love story that runs on so many levels, but in reading this passage, I am struck afresh by the enormity of the tragedy. Life was hard enough already for Naomi and her husband to flee the famine to Moab – the land of the enemy from an Israelite perspective. Then Naomi loses her husband and both sons in a short space of time. Men in those times were really the only ones who would have been able to earn an income, so it would have almost been a guarantee of death or lifelong hardship for Naomi and her two stepdaughters.
Lord, when life feels hard, give us encouragement to go on and perspective to see that there are almost always going to be others around us in more need than we are.
Written by Justin Ware