When tragedy strikes!

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Noemi was a woman who had run out of faith and was not very happy with her God. Many years ago her husband had died.  However that was not enough grief. Now her only sons lay dead.  With no money, property or foreseeable source of income, she made the best decision she could. She turned to the only family she had left, her two daughters in law, Ruth and Orpha, and said “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” (Ruth 1:8) Noemi kissed her daughters-in–law and believed she would never see them again.

Then they both began to cry and nobody was leaving. They both declared that they weren’t going anywhere. Noemi was not too happy.  Her best plan to save her daughter-in-laws was not working. She explained that she had nothing to offer them and finally convinced Orpha to leave, Ruth would be more challenging. Ruth displayed great courage, stubbornness and faith in God as she declared “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Ruth was determined to be loyal to both Noemi and God.  Noemi must have thrown her hands up in defeat. Both women with nothing in this world to call their own would return to Bethlehem or as Noemi would say, ” the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

It’s easy to understand Noemi’s bitterness. We’re supposed to raise our children and then help them raise their children. Hard work and proper planning is also supposed to provide us with a healthy income deep into our old age. It’s the plan for a whole lot of folks, including me. Then tragedy strikes. God is so merciful He can see us through the most desperate situations.

Although Ruth was a foreigner she found favor in the eyes of one of the most powerful men in Bethlehem, Boaz. He had heard the most improbable story of the foreign girl who had given up her family and homeland to stay loyal to her penniless mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:11-12)He allowed her to work his land and everything Ruth could gather was hers to keep. What would happen next would be a true shocker. Boaz fell in love with this penniless, Moabite woman, and married her. (Ruth 4:13)Noemi became the adopted grandmother of their son Obed, King David’s grandfather, and they all lived happily ever after.

God can take the worst situation and turn it completely around. Although Noemi was bitter and perhaps angry with God, He had a plan and had never forsaken her. God incorporated Ruth, the foreigner into not only David’s blood lines, but Jesus himself, also a descendant of Ruth. In this manner both Jew and Gentile were already included in the plan of salvation. Before we grow bitter consider that God knows what is best, has us in his hands and will surely fulfill his purpose in our lives.

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First they criticize, then they crucify

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” Luke 11:15

This is dedicated to all the doers, past, present and future, the greatest one being Jesus Christ.

Who was likely the most criticized man on the planet? I can’t be sure. But Jesus sure got a lot of Criticism. It was His critics that wanted Him crucified. They said he was sinner because he healed people on the Sabbath. They said He was a blasphemer because he forgave people of their sins. Whenever he would cast out demons they said He did it with the help of the chief demon. They were even critical of his companions, the publicans; these were the hated tax collectors. Ah, nothing has changed. Sinners were always seeking Jesus out. They were in need. They accused Him of starting a rebellion, but His kingdom was not of this world. They finally decided they had enough and they demanded He be crucified.

If they criticized Jesus who did an immeasurable amount of Good in His short ministry, then what will they do with us? We cannot be surprised when we are criticized for anything good we do. Any attempts to help others or make lives better will be met with criticism. Such as “We were too late,” or “We rushed it”. Perhaps they’ll say “That was too long” or “that was too short” or “those words were too eloquent, no one understood” or “Those words were too simple, what do you think of us.” No way to please everybody. The sure fire way to not receive criticism is not to do anything. Well that may not be true. Then we’ll be accused of being Lazy.

We just need to go out and do what we have to do for the Lord. If some people don’t like what you did, no problem, tell them “Please show me how to do it better”. Most likely they won’t. Because their role in life is not to do something, just to criticize others who do something. More importantly remember we do not perform for the critics. We do it for God and the kingdom of Heaven.

I just can’t take it anymore

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” (Matthew 25:21)

“I just can’t take it anymore.”  Does this sound about right, time for a vacation?   Well this is not an advertisement for a trip to the Bahamas, although I would love to be heading there myself.  Sometimes work, family, school, relationships, health, economics and countless other stressors can lead to a great deal of pain and sleepless nights, but as crazy as this may sound these may be great blessings.

God is working in your life.  He is teaching you and preparing you for even more.  Stress is an incredible motivator that pushes us to a higher level. It’s when we are under stress that we accomplish great things.  Little has been done while living a stress free life.  Those struggles and challenges are what enable us to accomplish feats that we never thought possible. The stuff we tell our grandchildren.

Jesus in the parable of the talents explains how the master gives 5 talents to one servant, 2 to the second and 1 to the last.  Immediately we see that the Master understands that not all his servants can handle the same responsibility. When the master returns and receives a good report from the first servant he rewards him with more talents. He also tells him “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” (Matthew 25:14-29) He graduated and was ready for more.

Think of life as a school, filled with many graduations.  As we learn to handle more stress, more responsibility, greater problems, we become stronger, better and more capable. God is able to place more in our hands. Remember God is good. His desire is not to over load you to the point you break. He is simply helping you grow. Paul explains “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) James says “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

We are not feeble, we stand with the Lord.  When it seems like it’s just too much stress remember we are conquerors. You will overcome; your accomplishment will be great!

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