The story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, was nearly my undoing during the Wine, Women, and Jesus bible study. (To learn more about that go to The Marcella Project by Dr. Jackie Roese.)
As I studied Ruth, I realized more and more how God provided for Naomi. And how the story of Ruth is really the story of Naomi.
When they entered Bethlehem, the whole village was excited about their arrival. The women of the village said, “Can this be Naomi?” But she replied to them, “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’! Call me ‘Mara’ because the Sovereign One has treated me very harshly. I left here full, but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the Lord has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?” So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab. (Now they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.)RUth 1:19b-22, NET
It’s amazing what you see when you watch the women in the story of Christ’s lineage. Naomi had lost her husband and her two sons. She tried to cut her two daughters-in-law loose, but Ruth was willing to follow her mother-in-law anywhere. And that devotion ended up saving them both.
That’s how a Moabite ended up in the family tree.
I know I haven’t told you why the story was nearly my undoing. That had to do with all the “hesed” love in this story.
The part about Naomi returning to Bethlehem, with nothing but a stubborn daughter-in-law, filled with grief, with nothing to her name, and asking to be called Mara. Her grief was piled on and piled on. For some reason it triggered a bout of crying that I won’t soon forget.
For now, know that Naomi and Ruth found redemption and life through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. And, thus, made it into the lineage of Jesus. ❤