A Wilderness of Books

Ruth 1 (Click through and read the whole chapter; I promise it won’t take long!)

The book of Ruth starts with the stories of refugees and widows. First we have Naomi and her husband Elimelech, who leave Israel because of extraordinary famine. They settle in Moab, their sons marry Moabite women (a big no-no for Israelites, which we’ll talk about more on Thursday), and things go pretty well for a while. Then suddenly all the men die, leaving Noami and her daughters-in-law without caregivers and protectors in a world where such things are desperately needed.

Natural disaster. Refugees. Widows. These are all part of God’s story (and eventually part of Jesus’ story). In fact, the Old Testament is overflowing with stories a lot like this one, and many of them end more tragically than Ruth. There’s a bit of a tension here: that tragedy and sorrow are part of God’s story (something that’s hard to swallow) and that the book of Ruth does seem to invite us to grieve with this family at their continued loss.

There is a wilderness of books attempting to understand why God’s story puts people in some terrible places, even as he grieves alongside them. It can seem like an impossible tension. As you mull over today’s passage, think about spaces in your life where you have seen it. What do you think Jesus was doing in those times?