RUTH: WEEK NINETEEN
The Proposal (Part Four)
(Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)
The Verse of the Week
“THE LORD IS NEAR TO THE BROKENHEARTED, AND SAVES THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED IN SPIRIT.” Psalm 34v18 NASB
More Words from the Father
1 Peter 2v19-25
1 Peter 3v1-19
From my Heart
Home / Not Always a Safe Place
Some of you are “making your home” amongst difficult people. You feel afflicted and picked on; judged and found wanting. No Walton family reruns, where everyone kisses each other at the end of the day and tucks them in with kindness. Instead, you absorb sarcasm and criticism, harsh words which poke and cause pain.
Oh, I’m not talking about abuse here, but about that every day brand of meanness that is so prevalent in our society today - so seemingly acceptable in its boundaries.
Not one of us is immune to the wounds received when living in this fallen world. And though it ought not to be in our homes, the reality is that sometimes it just is.
What’s a woman to do?
Some of us protect ourselves by putting a hard shell around our hearts. Others withdraw, keeping a safe distance from anyone who might lash out and hurt their tender souls. Or sometimes we fight back, returning meanness for meanness in an attempt to turn away the flood of negativity, giving them just what they deserve for hurting us so.
It doesn’t work, though, does it?
We end up feeling as ugly as we sound, or bound up and cold hearted; unable to pour on people the extravagant affection that makes a woman truly beautiful.
I have found Psalm 34 to be an invitation into the shelter of the Almighty during those trying times. This is David’s answer to those afflicted (NIV), discouraging (NLT), and humbling (NASB) realities.
Let’s walk through this Psalm together to discover how David found shelter from what he so poetically called, “the strife of tongues.”
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly sing His praises.
I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.
It sounds to me like David is having to pull himself out of his discouragement one painful handful at a time. By turning away from his detractors and determining to focus his thoughts on God, David’s sore heart is being healed.
Sometimes it takes herculean effort to pull yourself away from the pain of hurt feelings. The only possible way to do so is to praise God, to boast about Him, to open your mouth and sing out loud to Him. The out-loud part is important. You can’t stay down in the dumps for long when you are singing about God’s greatness.
I prayed to the Lord and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears.
This is just what you will need: freedom from the fear that life will always be this way - that strife and conflict instead of “goodness and mercy” will follow you all the days of your life.
Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and He heard me.
He set me free from all my fears.
For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear Him, and He rescues them.
Just like Ruth, you and I need a Rescuer - someone who will tuck you under His wing and guard your fragile heart. Rather than step in and rescue yourself by fighting back, what might happen if you, like David, chose instead to simply cry out to the Lord and wait? What if, instead of acting out your hurt and anger, you chose to bow low before the Father and honor Him with your tongue?
What if we so feared Him that we wouldn’t dare lash out?
Here’s what He says would happen:
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!
Let the people show Him reverence,
for those who honor Him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.
To taste is to experience, to relish the flavor of God’s goodness. When you get a taste of God, especially in the face of difficulties, you take Him in and are filled with His joy. When you honor Him in spite of how you are being treated, He will see to it that you have all you need. That hunger and that longing for love will be satisfied by God Himself.
How do I know this is true?
By long, hard experience. Too often, I have taken things into my own hands, determined to stick up for myself when feeling underappreciated, or ready to sass back when someone’s irritation interrupts my peace. My face wears a frown, and filled with “righteous indignation,” I let‘em know not to mess with me!
But that is not the way of Jesus, nor is it the way of beauty.
On those all-too-rare occasions when I have chosen to follow His way of dealing with difficult people, I have known a peace and a joy and a deep-down satisfaction that puts me in instant intimacy with the Father. There is nothing like it!
If your home is not an easy place to rest, and you find yourself longing for the love and acceptance that Ruth found with Boaz, perhaps you should follow the example of Jesus…and of those “holy women of old” in our Scripture reading for today. Read over those verses again. Ponder them in the light of your own circumstances. They are loaded with wisdom, full of keys to staying safely tucked under the wings of the Almighty.
And while tucked into that safe place, look around. You just might spot Sarah…or Ruth, maybe even Esther.
From my heart,
“…and now my daughter, do not fear.” Ruth 3v11
If this phrase sounds comfortingly familiar to you, it may be because it is something our God says over and over again to His far-from-courageous chosen leaders. Men and women who seem invincible when we read their stories were in fact terrified at the time. Yet they didn’t stay that way. As they watched Him at work, and as they listened for His voice, they gained the temerity to trust God to do what they knew they couldn’t. Ruth was one of them.
Maybe it’s time you were too.
Read up on their situations and ask Him for the kind of faith that banishes fear.
Abraham / Genesis 15v1
Isaac / Genesis 26v24
Jacob / Genesis 43v3
Moses / Exodus 14v13
Joshua / Joshua 8v1; 10v8
Jehoshaphat / 2 Chronicles 20v17
The Remnant/ Isaiah 41v10, 13, 14; 43v1, 5; 44v2
Ezekiel / Ezekiel 3v9
Daniel / Daniel 10v12
Joseph / Matthew 1v20
Zacharias / Luke 1v13
Mary / Luke 1v30
The shepherds / Luke 2v10
Paul / Acts 27v24
John / Revelations 1v17
“Thus Sarah obeyed…and you become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3v6