Blessed is the Lord

It is easy to overlook the village women of Bethlehem in the Book of Ruth.   They appear only briefly at the beginning and the end of the story, but their presence carries an important message for us.

On the surface, their role is simply to welcome Naomi back to Bethlehem after the death of her husband and then to congratulate her upon the birth of her long-awaited grandson.   It seems like a small thing, but the backstory tells us more.   Ever since Naomi’s husband and sons died, leaving her without a descendant, she had struggled with bitterness toward God.   In fact, Naomi rejected her name, which means “sweet,” and told everyone to call her “Mara”—”bitter”—instead.

This is when the village women have such a profound impact.  Standing at Naomi’s side at the end of the story, they proclaim God’s faithfulness to her.   They tell her, “The Lord . . . has not failed to provide you today with an heir”.   They even take it upon themselves to give the boy his name.   It is as if these matriarchs were prophetesses, announcing the goodness of the Lord and helping Naomi see her life from God’s perspective.

Like the village women, we can all become prophetic voices for one another.   We do not need to be able to peer into the future to do this.   All we need to do is try to help each other see our lives through the eyes of faith.   We can point out ways that God is taking care of someone when he or she cannot see them.   We can help our friends look past the challenges in their lives to see and recognize the goodness and provision of the Lord for them.   We can do for them what the women did for Naomi, help them move from bitterness and anxiety to faith and surrender to the Lord.

At first, you might not “see” much.   Like Naomi, you might see only the challenges and hardships in someone’s life.   But if you keep looking for hidden blessings, God will open your eyes and give you the words to speak—words of encouragement, comfort, and hope that every friend needs.

-word among us