“How can you be so kind if you don’t even know me!”
By making some wrong decisions, Linda had ended up in jail in a country not her own. For six years she remained in prison, and when she was set free she didn’t have anywhere to go. She thought her life was over! While her family gathered money to buy her ticket home, a kind couple offered her lodging, food, and a helping hand. Linda was so touched by their kindness that she willingly listened as they told her the good news of a God who loves her and wants to give her a second chance.
Linda reminds me of Naomi, a widow in the Bible who lost her husband and two sons in a foreign land and thought her life was over (Ruth 1). However, the Lord hadn’t forgotten Naomi, and through the love of her daughter-in-law and the compassion of a godly man named Boaz, Naomi saw God’s love and was given a second chance (4:13–17).
The same God cares for us today. Through the love of others we can be reminded of His presence. We can see God’s grace in the helping hand of people we may not even know well. But above all, God is willing to give us a fresh start. We just need, like Linda and Naomi, to see God’s hand in our everyday lives and realize He never stops showing us His kindness.
Dear Lord, thank You that You let us begin again and again.
God gives us second chances.
Placed in the same time period as the book of Judges, the book of Ruth complements the bleak tone of Judges with a hopeful focus on God’s unconditional faithfulness. The most central character in this book is Naomi, who receives renewed hope after her own resources are gone.
The concept of “redemption” in Ruth refers to the practice of a “guardian-redeemer.” The redeemer restores losses due to tragedy for a close relative. The guardian-redeemer’s role might involve some self-sacrifice, for restoring the relative’s inheritance or family line meant the possibility of not creating his own family line. In the book of Ruth, after the death of Naomi’s husband and sons, Boaz chooses to restore Elimelek and Naomi’s family line through marrying Ruth and considering her child as Naomi’s.
But “redemption” also had a deeper meaning for Israel, pointing them to their hope of God restoring them (often portrayed as redemption; see, for example, Ex. 6:6–8; Isa. 43:1). Ultimately, it was God, not Boaz, who restored Naomi (Ruth 4:14). And from Ruth’s family came David (v. 22) and eventually Jesus, who restores all believers into relationship with God.
When have you, like Naomi, experienced God’s restoration despite feelings of despair?