Below are some additional interactions on the article: When Life Makes No Sense. Read it first.
When Naomi and Ruth reached Bethlehem they had to figure out a way to survive. Sure Naomi was in her hometown; but without a husband and sons, surviving in those days could be difficult. Did you know that God provided a way for her and her daughter-in-law to live way before they were born? In Leviticus 19:9 and 10 God instructs his people on how to ensure even the most destitute among them can be fed:
When you harvest your fields, do not cut the grain at the edges of the fields, and do not go back to cut the heads of grain that were left. Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen; leave them for poor people and foreigners. I am the LORD your God.
That is what Ruth was doing in Boaz’s field! She was spending all day bending and searching and working hard in the hot sun just to eat, to provide for her and Naomi. And she did it with such dedication that Boaz noticed her and God moved him to have compassion and eventually develop love. All of this was set in motion hundreds of years before by God making sure even the poorest of his people would be taken care of in all situations. You better believe he cares just as much about you and your life!
Often when we talk about how to deal with hard times and life’s curve balls, we focus on perseverance or coping mechanisms, and all of that is very important. Something else that can be helpful is to take a break from worrying over your problems and refocus on the positive things in your life. God doesn’t want us to operate out of fear. He wants us to rejoice! Sometimes, in the midst of our pain, that seems completely ridiculous; but, challenge yourself to spend 5 minutes praising God for all the good things he has brought into your life. Go basic if you have to—food, clothes, sunshine, a pet. God loves you and he made us extraordinarily capable of experiencing multiple emotions all at once. So praise him for the blessings in your life and have confidence that he will carry you through your pain and that he is working his purpose in your situation.
For a little push in the right direction, take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18:
“Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”
And Psalm 100 (If you’re having trouble articulating, this psalm might be a good prayer to start with):
Sing to the LORD, all the world!
Worship the LORD with joy;
come before him with happy songs!
Acknowledge that the LORD is God.
He made us, and we belong to him;
we are his people, we are his flock.
Enter the Temple gates with thanksgiving;
go into its courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise him.
The LORD is good;
his love is eternal
and his faithfulness lasts forever.
Proverbs 3:5–6—a passage that calls us to trust God with everything we’ve got no matter what the circumstances. It also contains a great promise to cling to during rough times.
Isaiah 55:8–9—these two verses reminds us that God sees things from a totally different perspective.
James 1:2–4—these verses also remind us that, though hard and painful, God uses suffering in our lives as a means to his good ends.
Small group guide:
Take a look at this clip from Lord of the Rings: Two Towers where Sam delivers a speech to Frodo when he is close to giving up. The two of them have already come through so much and endured many hardships they in no way deserve, but still they press on toward Mt. Doom. In many ways, Sam’s speech reads like a psalm, particularly those written by David when he was on the run from King Saul. Take a look at Psalm 57 for comparison. Consider how both Sam and David have attitudes of hope and confidence that what they are doing matters and what they are going through will pass. God will protect you and bring you through just as he did for them.
Large group guide:
- Make a list of everything Naomi lost in Ruth chapter 1. Then, make a list of everything she regained in chapter 4. Was God faithful to provide for Naomi? Things may not be how you want them to be right now, but that does not mean that God is absent or unaware of your situation. Take a moment right now and write down ten things you do have that you can thank God for.
- Perspective is everything in life. If we are to show ourselves resilient to life’s set-backs, then we must maintain a proper perspective. If you feel like throwing yourself the world’s biggest pity party, consider writing down five things you can be thankful for. Do this every day for 7 consecutive days. At the end of that time, you might be surprised how your outlook has changed. Give it a shot; you have nothing to lose! NOTE: I realize 1 and 2 are similar, but they each get at the same idea from different angles.
- In our story in the book of Ruth, Boaz and Ruth end up being the means by which God restored Naomi’s fortunes (see chapters 2 and 3). Maybe you are that Ruth or Boaz for someone else going through a difficult time. Take five minutes and write your friend an encouraging note. Post it on Facebook or Twitter.
- It is often the case that God does not always allow us to see why things happen the way they do. It is only after the passing of time that we can begin to make sense out of everything. Just as Ruth clung to her mother-in-law, we also must cling to God during times of confusion, even when the situation doesn’t make sense. If this is your deal right now, then memorize the verses referenced above and cling to the promises found in them.