Day 1: Where Do You Find Meaning? (Judges 21:25)
Today’s Passage: Judges 21:25
Our view of the world, filled with its national unrest and international strife, for many becomes even darker as community erodes, family suffers, and their own personal misery take center stage—the mood is dark.
For a person looking for God, there is the lure of temptations, many of which suggest relief from the ever-present night that hangs.
Such was the world that Ruth lived in—I’m sorry, did you think I was speaking of our day and age?
These feelings are pervasive in “the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). Pervasive in our own day, too, which is exactly why The Book of Ruth should be read.
I first read Ruth with my wife when we became engaged. It reports a wonderful love story, a story with God woven into the twists and turns. Because it has a “happy ending” we (or perhaps “I”) romanticize how God made it all work out.
But a slower read of this love story—and it is a love story—will invite us to ponder how its characters processed and lived through the events of their lives—with faith.
As we read this story, there will be moments when we will wonder if Naomi and Ruth, as they laid their heads down for the night, were frightened and fearful. With night falling and darkness descending, did fear not enshroud them? Aren’t there nights where we too have this feeling?
What is their response when darkness comes? What is ours? Today, we are quick to ask, “Where is God?”
We won’t read the characters in Ruth asking this question. Be assured they will talk with God, and we will sense their pain, but even in a context in which their faith is challenged, our Author urges upon his readers – upon us – a certainty, and delight, in the security of God’s providence.
I seek to unpack this idea of God’s providence here. Suffice to say, such belief in God’s providence for centuries provided a reference point from which Jesus’ followers understood the world. “We do not see the glories and tragedies of national and global events, and the joys and the pains of day-to-day family life, as finding their meaning only within human history, or personal biography. Their true meaning lies within the purposes of a God who has made himself known…” *
In Part Two of this Introduction, we will reflect on how trusting God’s providence has eroded.
Yet before digging into providence, I want to circle back to the sentence underlined above. Re-read this for a moment.
Let me then ask, “Where do you find meaning in all the events of your life? Do you only find meaning in personal biography?”
I must tell you when I read this sentence it hit me. I do this, I limit where I find meaning only to my individual self. Ugh!
Which means I turn inward, I run around doing whatever I think is right. The result is often darkness—how about you?
It is into this darkness that the book of Ruth shines.
*The Message of Ruth (The Bible Speaks Today) by David J. Atkinson