by Mark Carey
WHERE IS GOD WHEN WE HAVE LITTLE HOPE LEFT?
‘Everyone did as he saw fit’ (Jdg 21:25). So ends the book of Judges – a statement that showed that Israel, even with some great and anointed leaders, was failing in character and falling away from the ways of the living God. This is the context for the book of Ruth, in which we see Naomi’s husband Elimelech making the fateful decision to leave the Promised Land and go to shelter in Moab. He did as he saw fit. But as so often is the case, decisions made in our own strength and understanding may be seen as good but aren’t necessarily God. While the book of Ruth starts with a bad decision, the rest of the story is of the redemptive action of God. He is good and he rescues us!
Naomi, having lost all the breadwinners in her family, plans on returning home to Bethlehem. She had heard that ‘the Lord has come to the aid of his people…’ (Ruth 1:6). There is now food where there was famine. In some translations of the Bible we find the word ‘visit’ to describe the Lord coming to ‘the aid of his people’. In the Old Testament the word used here has the sense of divine visitation, the intervention of the living God either in judgement or mercy. In this case we are being told that the divine activity of God is such that his visit means the end of famine and the bread now available is regarded as God’s gift to his people. The story of God in the book of Ruth is that he visits his people. Divine intervention is guaranteed because we are in relationship with the living God. In our lives, when we struggle or fail to see things coming together, it is never a matter of ‘if’ he’s coming, it’s much more about ‘when’ he’s coming. I sometimes wonder if we are really expecting the visitation of the Lord? Do we really believe that he will come or are we, like Elimelech, moving on too quickly, unwilling to exercise the discipline of waiting for the visit of God?
Mark Carey leads St Mary’s Harrogate. He and his wife Penny
are on the leadership team of the North and East Summer
This material copyright New Wine Magazine and used with permission