Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reading Ruth in a Recession

I'm currently preaching through the book of Ruth at CBC. I got started on 11/8, after finishing Philippians the previous week. I had the week off this past Sunday, since we had a visiting missionary in town to bring God's Word to us. So this Sunday, I'm back in the saddle for chapter 2. And one of the things that strikes me about the book of Ruth generally, and chapter 2 in particular, is how subtly God's provision is made. In verse 1, we read that Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from her deceased husband's clan, who was "a man of standing" (i.e., a wealthy and powerful man). In verse 3, the author reports that "as it turned out, [Ruth] found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech." Then we read in verse 4 "Just then..." that Boaz showed up. All of these statements together form a sort of ironic hyperbole, in which the narrator of the story is emphasizing the "chance" nature of these facts to highlight the real nature of God's provision. For the point of the story is that God is always working to provide for and demonstrate love to his people, but subtly, and behind the scenes. In fact, God's provision is so subtle that a person might miss it.

It occurs to me that God often works in similar ways today in my life and in the lives of others. His provision is always there for those whom He loves, but subtly. It is visible to those with eyes to see, but might seem like coincidence to some observers. We always have "too much to deny, too little to be sure," and so we trust God, and see His hand faithfully providing. I think too that books like Ruth have marvelous applicability in these days. Ruth had no social standing, few legal rights, and little hope, but she believed God. That faith made all the difference. God provided in ways she could not have expected, foreseen or imagined.

But one must have eyes to see what God is doing and the faith to trust Him in the how and why and when.

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