I’ve moved to one of the most beautiful stories of scripture for my devotional reading, the book of Ruth. This story moves me as I think of an old woman and her daughter-in-law reduced to harvesting grain left over in the fields and then go on through the story and discover how God cares for them. The story begins with the heart breaking story of a Jewish family moving to Moab to escape a famine in their homeland. While there the father dies and the two sons take Moabite wives. In time, the sons die. In the world view of Naomi, the old woman, God has greatly stricken her. For what sin was she stricken? She gives no indication of knowing, but insists that the actions of God have been for her harm. It is easy for us to fall into this same pattern. We assume bad things are a punishment from God. This book should dispel that habit.
Had these things not happened we would not have the beautiful story of an outsider being accepted into the people of God. Not only was Ruth accepted into Israel, a relative by marriage overlooked her place and condition taking her as wife (another saw this as too much). In time she went on to become the grandmother of the King of Israel. This of course made Naomi the great grandmother of the king, and when Ruth was blessed Naomi was blessed as well. When bad things come our way, it is natural to assume the worst, to complain that God is unfair or to assume he is punishing us. Perhaps he is pushing us along to get us into the area where he intends to bless us. Perhaps his blows are not affliction, but the wind driving us into the land of blessing. When life seems to punch you in the head, take a quick look back to see if God is showing you an area to repent. If there is such, then repent quickly and turn from your sins. However, realize that God is pointing you forward, not back. He is the God who makes what was into what will be. He is working on you, through good and bad. They are not meant to simply grind you into the ground, but to make you stronger.