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“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land…” (Ruth 1:1)
On every side we are faced with world hunger. Many people reading these words think about hunger only in personal terms. For example, “What will we prepare for dinner?” or “This diet is making me hungry” or “Next week I’ll contribute canned goods to the local food pantry.” But we cringe when we see pictures of babies with bloated stomachs, babies too weak to nurse from their mother’s breast and we open our wallets to help meet the staggering needs. When tragedy strikes, the universal need for food and support is recognized.
But we are also faced with other kinds of hunger – hunger that cannot be satisfied with another shipment of grain or rice. The words in the beginning of the narrative about Naomi and Ruth are stark in their simplicity: In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. There was no alternative except to leave all that was familiar, comfortable, and predictable and search for a place where food could be found.
Many of us experience famine even though we may never have to leave our homeland to search for food. The word is not limited to lack of food; its broad meaning includes deprivation, shortage and want. We may be deprived of the kind of love we were led to believe marriage would supply. We may be short of affirmation from our peers or superiors. We may fall short of believing in ourselves, lacking in hope, comfort or joy. We may think that God Himself is absent.
If you know the story, you know that when these women heard that the famine was over in Naomi’s homeland, they decided to travel back to a place of familiarity. Although Naomi and Ruth eventually found food, they were otherwise left without any visible means of physical or emotional support when their husbands died. This was not short-term deprivation; the biblical text indicates that they lived well over ten years in the midst of loss.
Ultimately God worked wonders that would trickle down to affect the lives of both Jews and Christians. (King David and our Savior Jesus Christ find Ruth in their lineage.)
But it did not happen quickly or without pain. They experienced profound loss in their journey. The God who walked with them through the famine brought them finally to the feast of fullness. He promises to do the same for us but the timing might not be what we expect. Just like in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, God’s answers may come in surprising ways.
Lord, I am going through a famine in (name area of your life). Would You help me to lean into You and trust that You will bring me into a feast of fullness? Thank You for your never ending love. Amen
Questions: What strikes you the most in the story of Naomi and Ruth? How does it apply to your life?