Same Story, Different Interpretation

In the book of Ruth, Naomi told us, “I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” She felt that the death of her family was God testifying against her. The word used in this verse for testify can also mean to shout. She felt God was shouting to the world that she was good for nothing. She even told her daughters-in-law they should leave her because she had nothing to offer them.

At this point, Naomi was deep in her suffering. The only thing she could see was the grave around her.

Photo by Brooke Shaden

Take a minute and reflect. Has your life felt like a grave?

Words can open eyes

When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, they needed provision, they needed food. Ruth found a field to glean. Eventually she met the man that owned the field. To her surprise, this man showed her favor. He blessed her, provided protection for her and fed her. She was confused as to why he showed her such kindness. Why did he extend such favor to her?

Ruth labeled herself as a widow and a stranger in this land, not as a woman of favor. She had been walking with Naomi and had only heard versions of her past that convinced her she was broken and that the hand of God was against her. So, of course, she was confused when Boaz blessed her.

But he saw what she had endured, not what she had lost.

Boaz told her he had heard about her past – the deaths, her commitment to Naomi and the courage she had shown by moving to this new country. His ability to see the good in their story changed everything. When Ruth told Naomi what Boaz had said and done for them, Naomi was actually able to accept the blessing. I imagine she lifted her head to hear these words. Her eyes were suddenly opened. No longer was she the woman that God had broken into pieces, but she saw herself as blessable. Instead of using her words to tell the world how cursed she was, she then spoke blessings upon this man, Boaz. Through his words and kindness, her eyes had been opened.

Whose eyes do you have

Naomi could only see the grave. She said “God has testified against me.” And she was right, He had. But instead of telling the world she was cursed, God had used her story to open a door. God brought their story to the ears and heart of a man that lived in abundance. Boaz didn’t live in the grave; he had eyes to see the garden. He had the ability to interpret their circumstances differently. He gave them an example of how to live in abundance instead of lack. He introduced them to a God that provides, even if you say He has destroyed.

Photo by Brooke Shaden

What can we glean from this story

– When we bless others we speak life into darkness. The blessings that Boaz spoke opened the door for God’s will to be accomplished in Ruth’s life. “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Ruth 2:12 Our words are powerful. Let’s use them to bless.

– We must stop condemning our future based on our judgement of the past. Ruth had to shed her label as a widow and allow God to make her a bride, again. And this time, a mother. Allow God to bless you.

Accept the blessings of others. Allow God to use other people to bless you. Bread could miraculously appear in your cupboard, or God could have Boaz invite you to lunch. Oftentimes, God will use His body to help each other. This lesson is humbling and a way for us to learn that we can’t do everything on our own.

Thank you for spending your time here. What story from your life needs to be interpreted differently so that God can use it to birth His glory?

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