“Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her” – Ruth 1:14 (NKJV)
The book of Ruth tells us the story of a courageous woman after whom the book is named. This woman was blessed with a good husband and a loving mother-in-law but after years of being married she had no children. I can only imagine what the other women in the village said about her. Maybe they called her barren and mocked her for marrying a foreigner. Maybe she felt ashamed to walk in the streets and went to seek children from her gods. We are not told what happened all this time. We are, however, told that after 10 years she lost her husband.
Imagine the devastation she must have felt from such loss: no child of her own and no living brother-in-law to take the place of her husband (no wonder her mother-in-law felt cursed, fate really seemed to have been cruel to her.) and if being a childless widow wasn’t enough, now she was about to lose her home: her mother-in-law had had enough pain and decided to go back to her own people.
What fate! What shame! To be once married, now widowed and abandoned. “Go back home to your people,” Naomi said, “no need for you to suffer with me. You have no need to be here anymore; neither do I. Perhaps, you might have some good fortune if you returned to your past”.
Naomi’s intentions were noble but that sounded unacceptable to Ruth. “What would be the point of that?” Ruth must have thought, “I cannot go back now, I cannot give up, I have been through pain but I know there’s got to be a reason.”
At the most devastating point in her life she refused to return to her past. She chose instead to cling to Naomi at all cost. Why? Maybe she needed to leave the country that brought her so much shame and pain. Maybe she felt that Naomi was her family and she couldn’t leave her alone. Maybe she felt she could no longer worship the gods that disappointed her when she sought a child or maybe she just needed a fresh start; we never know. But she refused to let go. Her sister-in-law, Orpah, eventually left. She kissed Naomi and was never heard of again. But God honored Ruth’s decision. She remarried an honorable man and ended up the grandmother of David and an ancestor of our savior, Jesus. What would have happened has she decided to kiss instead? Maybe you wouldn’t be reading this today.
So what’s it gonna be for you? Will you kiss your future goodbye to cling to your past or would you hold firmly to the prospects of a better future no matter how unpleasant?
P.S. God always has a better future prepared for those who love Him and cling to His purpose (Rom 8:28)