Story of our life! We are running into major trouble, our life turns upside down, and instead of counting our blessings we sit down and count our losses grieving maybe over the loss of our health, or loss of a career, or loss of a person dear to us – you probably know what I am talking about. – “Where is God in all of this?” You may ask and think: “Where is God when He is most needed?” I have spoken with people who make this their statement of agnosticism by acknowledging that because of such a tragedy they do not want to believe in a God who apparently does not care.
According to the philosopher William L. Rowe, “agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist”. Having a rough life without detecting God’s footprints can lead to such a conclusion. The book of Ruth is a case study of such a rough life. Tragedy hits Naomi’s family when she loses her husband and both her sons while residing in a foreign country. Bereaved of her family she returns to Israel but not without encouraging her two daughters-in-law to stay behind (both of her two late sons married locals). In Naomi’s mindset these young women were better off staying in their home country rather than staying with her. One daughter agreed and stayed behind, the other by the name of Ruth disagreed and insisted to go with her. Ruth was determined to leave her home country and immigrate to Israel with her mother-in-law.
Grieving Naomi may have lost all that mattered to her, but unbeknownst to her she still had a treasure, and that was her daughter-in-law. It didn’t occur to her until long after their return to Israel, when Ruth would marry into Naomi’s next of kin and carry on the family name by giving birth to a son (incidentally King David’s grandfather). As they were celebrating the arrival of Ruth’s newborn, whom they named Obed (Hebrew word for “worshiper”), Naomi’s neighbors and friends spoke up (Ruth 4:14-15):
“Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
Suddenly God’s footprints emerge. God does care. God does not forsake. God is holding us close when tragedy hits. And tragedy sometimes brings out the best in people. It did in Ruth’s case, and it still happens. Let’s pray to God that He opens our eyes so we can see His footprints all over our life.
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul” Horatio Spafford