Today we begin a study through the book of Ruth. As many of you know, the story of Ruth is full of love, adventure and the providence of God. I pray that these studies will be a blessing to each of us over the next several days.
In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5)
I don’t do well with famines. I find life a lot more enjoyable whenever I have plenty. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Famines come in all shapes and sizes and can affect every area of our lives. Marriages sometimes suffer famine and so do parent-child relationships. Friendships go through famines and so do our finances. Even churches sometimes go through times of famine. The question therefore is – ‘How should we react to our times of famine?’ Let me suggest three ways.
1) We Should Seek to Strengthen Our Relationship God
Famines are rarely accidents. Often, they are God-sent and a part of the way He works in order to cause us to seek Him. The book of Ruth begins with, “In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land.” A parallel study of the book of Judges reveals that God often used famines to cause His people to turn from their sin and back to Him. Therefore, whenever a famine strikes, the first thing we should focus on is our relationship with God.
2) We Should Humble Ourselves Before God
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
What does it mean to humble ourselves before the Lord? First of all, it means to ask God if there is any sin in our lives that needs to be confessed and forgiven. Secondly, it means to die to self in order that Christ might live through us. Thirdly, it means to live with expectation that God has a plan and purpose. The book of Ruth begins with a famine, but ends with a feast.
3) We Should Wait Upon God
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Is 40:28-31)
Though none of us sets out to experience a famine, a famine can be a good thing if it causes us to draw closer to God.