Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Widows Can Learn from Ruth's Good-Byes





Think back over your life and the many times the word "Good-bye" has crossed your lips.  Good-byes are so final. They always represent someone or something that has left us, sometimes never to be seen again. We say good-bye to people who move, to people who leave our presence, to our pets who die, and to institutions and/or communities in which we've been involved when we graduate or move. Without a doubt, the most difficult of all good-byes is that final good-bye that we say to cherished individuals when they die. As a widow, you have been compelled to say that good-bye and it hasn't been easy.

In the book of Ruth we read the story of, among others, Ruth, a young Moabite woman who had said good-bye to her father-in-law, her brother-in-law, and her husband in death; then, her sister-in-law, her parents and other family members, and her country and customs when she moved with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem. One of the reasons that good-byes are so difficult is that they always signify that our lives will be different, if not diminished, in some way. Ruth had suffered so many losses in her life, including her support for the daily provisions of life. To whom could she turn for help, comfort, and guidance as she began life in a strange country with only her embittered, though loving, mother-in-law to offer guidance? Ruth had to learn to trust the Hebrew God, the god to whose allegiance she had sworn when she told her mother-in-law that "your god will be my god." (Ruth 1:16b) While I don't know what was going through Ruth's mind, I do know from Scripture what she did to start over, to make something positive out of all of the negative good-byes in her life. She got busy. It was she who suggested to Naomi that she go out in the field and glean for wheat so that they might have food. (Ruth 2:2) She worked hard, not just for herself, but for her penniless mother-in-law.  And Ruth was rewarded by God in a way that she could never have thought imaginable.
Keep in mind that when you say good-bye to one thing, it is usually followed by hello to something else. I encourage you to say a final good-by to any anger or bitterness that may be lurking within you and say hello to the many God-inspired opportunities to help others that await you. You may just find that you will find comfort and restoration along the way.

Shari Hervold