As promised post 29 of this series is about encouraging others. Your health issues with lupus or other autoimmune diseases may be such that you feel you do not have the ability to be an encourager. I pray you will feel differently as you read this post about an amazing encourager.
Imagine moving to a different land with your husband and two young sons because there is a famine where you live. You do not know anyone, you do not know the area, but over time you adjust. One day you become a widow, and there is more adjusting to do. Your sons marry and you wait expectantly for grandchildren. Years pass and tragedy strikes instead. You now find yourself a childless widow with two daughter-in-laws. It is time to adjust some more, but you are spent.
Let me introduce you to Naomi from the Old Testament of the Bible.
After hearing there was food again in her homeland, Naomi decided to return home. To her surprise, both daughter-in-laws offered to leave their homeland and go with her. She urged them to return to their people knowing that moving to a new land and culture would be challenging for them. Reluctantly Orpah left, but Ruth clung to Naomi saying,
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16 & 17**
Most people have no idea that these amazing words were first spoken by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. We tend to relate them to lovers at a wedding ceremony. But if anyone needed to hear words like this it was Naomi.
Imagine these two women traveling alone 100 miles over the mountains, across the valley, and up through the wilderness*, probably by foot, maybe by donkey. It sounds overwhelming, scary, and long to me. Then there is the arrival. I would not like being the center of attention, and the recipient of everyone’s sympathy or pity. It would, however, be comforting to be with familiar people in a familiar place. It would be good to be home, though very bittersweet.
Whenever I read the book of Ruth I cringe as Naomi tells the people at home “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:21a) In my opinion the Lord did not bring her back completely empty. Yes, she was home without her husband and sons but God gave her a tremendous gift in the person of Ruth.
Ruth was not about to let her mother-in-law make the long difficult journey alone. She had no intention of letting her be comfortless on the journey and was not about to let her face her people alone. Ruth was a loyal encourager. She was there to inspire hope, courage, and confidence in Naomi, during one of her most difficult hours in life.
Ruth had her own challenges. She no longer had the companionship, love, and protection of her husband. She had to fend for herself at a time when it was extremely difficult for widows. She was going to a place where she would be an outsider. Ruth did not let her own challenges and heartbreak stop her from reaching out to someone else in need. In the end Ruth was greatly rewarded for her selfless actions.
If you read the Book of Ruth, you will see Naomi helped Ruth catch the attention of a kind and loving relative who took her as his wife. She later had a child bringing Naomi much joy. The real reason however, that she was able to catch this man’s attention was her love and devotion to Naomi. He saw her heart.
Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:10-12**
Even though you may feel like Naomi in the struggles you go through with your health, I urge you to be a Ruth, and reach out to someone in need of your encouragement. Reaching out selflessly will have its own rewards. I guarantee you will be blessed in one way or another.
Many blessings to you. Leslie Rose K
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer
*Reference: Who’s Who in the Bible By Joan Comay and Ronald Brownrigg
**English Standard Version Of the Bible