Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stress & God's sovereign love

"The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
Ruth 2:12

Reading the entire story of the book of Ruth in one sitting is an interesting exercise. I don't know that I had ever done it before, and it is short enough to do in about 15 minutes time. Laying aside some of the cultural questions that come to the modern reader, nonetheless one can quickly see that this is a love story, but much more than a mere romance. It is a story of God's love and protection in the drama of loss and emptiness.

These words from Boaz (Ruth 2:12) bring the big theme (God's sovereign love) and the moving circumstances (a love story growing between Ruth and Boaz) together in the text. From this nexus of plot, we see the story grow towards resolution. Boaz is clearly attracted to Ruth by virtue of her character and commitment, and he is a godly man who knows that she and Naomi are under a greater care than his. God has led them back to Israel and into the care of the one man best suited to provide for them in their poverty and loss.

The timeliness and the authority of God found in His sovereign love and care for us will be known in His people. We may not see it immediately. Ruth and Naomi first lost everything. They were without home or income or family when they returned to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22). But that was exactly the right time and place to bring them directly into God's care. Naomi was broken and bitter. Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law though a complete stranger in a strange land. They were both widows with no family or means of support. Yet God moved immediately when they arrived.

I appreciate the timing of my reading of this story. Right now, the past few weeks have been a stress train wreck of sorts, with car after car careening off the tracks. I won't elaborate, but will use another metaphor: the dominoes are tumbling all around me in terms of family, ambitions, ministry dreams, and my own personal sense of fulfillment. It is not as bad as it could be, but it is extremely stressful. I am not depressed, but a little disillusioned, wondering what God is going to make out of this. I do not lose any hope. Sovereign love will lead me to the right barley field (Ruth 2:3) where I will be comforted knowing I too am in refuge under God's wings.

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