The Book of Ruth begins with the tragic death of the three men of the house: Elimelech, Naomiís husband, and his two boys, Mahlon and Chilion. As a result, in what seems to be a short period of time, Naomi was left without a husband and her only children, while Ruth and Orpah were left without husbands as well.

          Naomi shows her concern for the two daughters-in-law by insisting that they go back to their respective families. Orpah, leaves Naomi and returns to her family; Ruth refuses to abandon Naomi and accompanies her to Israel to look after her.

          One would expect very little good to come out of such a tragedy. But, much good can follow even the greatest of tragedies -- if God intervenes. This is one of the great lessons of the book of Ruth.

          But what if God had not allowed the death of the three men? What if He had shown mercy to the three women and had left the three men alive?

          Without doubt, Naomi must have beseeched God for mercy, but God did not answer her prayers and allowed all three men in her life to die, thus leaving her old, and potentially alone and destitute.

          No doubt, God could have prevented the three deaths and, if He would have done so, their lives would have gone on as all others and nothing particularly eventful or memorable would have transpired for any of them. God looked down and decided to use the tragedy as a lesson that would show us all that He can bring forth wonderful fruits even out of anguish and hopelessness.

          The death of the three men turns the spotlight on the heroes of the story. Naomi quickly emerges as a woman of kindness and deep concern for the welfare of others. Though she was old and in need of care, she does not insist that the two younger daughters-in-law stay with her to look after her; rather, she invites them to go back to their respective families so as to rebuild their lives.

          Ruthís nobility of heart becomes evident in the fact that she refuses to abandon the old woman and makes the following astonishing oath: ď Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and meĒ (Ruth 1: 16-17).

          The true mettle of human beings is often shown in the crucible of life and the many tragedies that life brings about. The true mettle of these two women, and Ruth in particular, shone forth amidst the gloominess and anguish of a most horrific situation. Thus, the true worth of these two special women was revealed as a result of a most trying time, and God saw and was very pleased.

           God decided to reward both for their attitudes and dignity.  As a result of the love and kindness Ruth showed toward Naomi and her conversion to the true God, God bought about a series of circumstances which finally led to her marriage to another person of great dignity: Boaz.

          Boaz is overwhelmed by Ruthís character and determination and redeemed her from another uninterested relative and married her. The result was the birth of a child who was named Obed who became Jesseís father, who later became Davidís father (Ruth 4:17).

          Naomi was rewarded with a daughter-in-law who loved her and faithfully looked after her and finally was given the joy of becoming the nurse to Ruthís child. Her attachment with the child was so great that the neighbors would say, about her:       ďThere is a son born to NaomiĒ (Ruth 4: 17).   

          God chose not to listen to Naomiís prayers, and He did allow the death of her husband and two children. He did allow a great tragedy to befall Naomiís family, a tragedy of such magnitude that no good thing seemed to ever possibly come out of it.

Yet, in His great wisdom, God directed the events so that a most wonderful Gentile woman would be engrafted into King Davidís lineage and the Savior Himself.




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Booklet cover: Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow Suffering?