Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a woman, her husband and her two sons left their home and traveled to another land far, far away. A famine was sweeping through their hometown and they needed to find food. The new land was good, and soon, she was happy and at peace. Shortly after arriving in their new home though, the woman’s husband died. The woman was grief-stricken, but not afraid – she still had her two sons to care for her. Her sons married local girls and at first, the woman was appalled. Her sons had married foreigners! But soon she found that she loved her daughters-in-law and was able to accept them fully into her family. She was again happy and at peace. But some time later, both of her sons also died. The woman was now alone, poor and had no one to take care of her.
Through the grapevine, she learned that the famine that had led her to this far away land was over, so she gathered her few remaining possessions and started on her way back home. Her daughters-in-law insisted on going with her, but after some urging, only one made the trip. Upon arriving in the woman’s native land, her daughter-in-law immediately went looking for a job. A kind man hired her and made sure that all of her needs – and those of her mother-in-law – were met. Like any good fairy tale, the daughter-in-law and the kind man were married. And they all lived happily ever after…
But this story isn’t a fairy tale. It’s all true. The woman in the story is named Naomi. She was an Israelite who moved to Moab – the home of a people group Israelites were not supposed to be friends with – let alone marry. Her husband died. Her sons married women they weren’t supposed to marry. Her sons died.
After returning home, the Bible tells us what Naomi thought about all of this: She was bitter, angry, sad, disappointed and all the other things we feel when life isn’t fair (Ruth 1:20-21).
But what if Naomi had never experienced any of this? Let’s take a look:
- If there had been no famine, Naomi wouldn’t have moved to Moab.
- If her husband hadn’t died, her sons may not have married Moabite women.
- If her sons hadn’t died, Ruth wouldn’t have gone back to Israel with Naomi.
- If Ruth hadn’t gone to Israel, she wouldn’t have met her husband.
- If she hadn’t met her husband, she wouldn’t have had her son.
- If she hadn’t had her son, there would be no Jesse, no David, no Joseph, no… Jesus.
Ruth was Jesus great-great-great-great (you get the idea) grandmother. If Naomi had lived happily ever after in Bethlehem in the first place, history – and our lives – would be very different. Naomi saw all of her suffering as affliction from God, but if it hadn’t been for the suffering of just one woman centuries ago, where would we be, centuries later?
It’s so easy to focus on ourselves when we’re hurting and disappointed by life. But what if it isn’t about us at all? What if there’s a bigger picture and we’re just one small, bent piece of the puzzle?
Are you ready for this? Chances are pretty good that’s exactly what’s going on. Chances are pretty good that the things affecting your life today have very little to do with you. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to learn and grow from them, but perhaps, if we change the way we think about them, we’ll gain a whole new perspective. And a whole new way to look for God at work in our lives. After all, He’s always at work. And maybe, just maybe, what you’re going through right now, may someday change the world.
How have you seen God bless others through something you’ve experienced? How can you begin to look at your life differently today?