We all have lost something at some point in our lives. Grieving maybe the loss of our health, career, or a person dear to us – a common question keeps coming up: “Where is God in all of this?” I have spoken with grief-stricken people who expressed that they do not want to believe in a God who does not seem to 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”. And a rough life without detecting God’s footprints can lead to such a world view.
The book of Ruth tells a story of a family struck by misfortune. Almost overnight Naomi lost her husband and both her sons while residing in a foreign country. Her late sons had married locals and now her two daughters-in-law was the only family she had.
Then Naomi decided to go back to Israel. She did not want to selfishly hang on to the young women and so she said to them, “You are young and beautiful and your whole life is still ahead of you. But I am an old woman and have no more sons to give to you. Why don’t you stay here and get married again?” – In Naomi’s mind these young women were better off staying in their home country rather than going along with her. And one agreed to stay behind while the other already had made up her mind. She wanted to migrate to Israel with her mother-in-law. Her name was Ruth.
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. After their return to Israel Ruth married into Naomi’s next of kin and carried on the family name. She gave birth to a son, incidentally King David’s grandfather. As they were celebrating the arrival of the newborn whom they named Obed (Hebrew word for “worshiper”), Naomi’s friends and neighbors spoke up (Ruth 4:14-15):
“The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.’”
Suddenly God’s footprints emerge. God does care. He holds us close when tragedy hits and sometimes this brings out the best in people as in Ruth’s case. Let us pray that the Lord opens our eyes so we can see His footprints in our lives.