Sometimes we give up on dreams, and sometimes they are just stolen from us—no matter what we do.
It is often the unfulfilled expectations of this life that weigh us down; things that happen to us in this life can leave us desperately searching for a reprieve, a redo, especially when it involves our families. I mean, it certainly doesn’t seem to be an overreaching expectation to be loved and surrounded by family—right?
It seems such a simple dream to be a part of a healthy whole family. Then the drama comes, the unforeseen crisis, the pain of losing one we love—or fearing that we will— and we say “Why God? “Why have you destroyed my dream, left me without hope and no reason to go on?”
But we serve a God who can restore even the most hopeless and seemingly out of reach dream. Just ask Naomi.
Naomi lived long ago in Israel and she had a dream. A simple dream really, of passing on the family farm to her sons and grandchildren. She dreamed of growing old with her husband and watching her family grow, of getting to be grandma and seeing her sons marry women who loved and respected her and in return she would love them and hand down the wisdom of life’s lessons learned.
But this dream was shattered by one tragedy after another.
First a famine hit the land and the farm stopped making money, no rain, no grain—dust bowl time! So they walked away from the farm and moved west to the country of Moab. Then, just as their fortunes seemed to be changing Naomi’s husband died. But Naomi found solace in that her two sons had both found nice Moabite women to marry. Then, tragically, both her sons died. Within a ten year span Naomi had lost the farm, her husband and both her sons.
So here they are, three widows without much cause for hope, when they heard that the famine in Israel had ended. With no other recourse Naomi decided to return home and hope for the best, but she still held out very little hope. She told her daughter in laws:
Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, (for you to marry) 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, (a goodbye kiss) but Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1
Naomi was convinced that the Lord was against her and she was destined to live out her miserable life alone. But one of her daughter in laws, Ruth, was not about to leave her. Naomi was her family now and she would stay by her no matter what.
Naomi was blessed by the unconditional love of her daughter in Law but still she tried to persuade her to return home to her own mother’s house not wanting her to have to suffer the same hopeless destitute and lonely life she was sure would be her lot. Ruth responded to her mother in law in no uncertain terms, “You are my family, your people will be my people, your God my God— so stop telling me to leave you, where you die I will die!” Wow, don’t we all need a Ruth in our lives?
Or a better question might be, Who’s Ruth am I? To whom have you said?— “I will never give up on you no matter what.”
Ruth said this to Naomi, so off they went; this tiny family, Ruth and Naomi, back to Naomi’s home town of Bethlehem. They got there just as the Barley harvest was taking place. So, lacking any way to support or feed themselves, Ruth said she would go to one of the nearby farmers and ask if she could pick up the left over grain from behind the reapers.
She chose a field that happened to belong to Boaz who turned out to be a relative of Naomi. Impressed by her willingness to work from sunup to sundown picking up dropped gleanings behind the paid harvesters to provide for her and her mother in law, Boaz told his workers not to harass her and in fact to look after her and to make sure they left enough behind so that Ruth would get a good bushel or two to take home. Boaz even told Ruth not to go to any other farms because he was afraid she would not be safe on another place.
When Naomi heard about all this she was filled with hope for the first time in years and exclaimed— ‘Boaz is a relative of mine, obviously he likes you, maybe this is the Lord’s way of providing you with a husband and restoring our family.’ ‘Uhm, I just had an idea. There’s a harvest party tonight at his place. Wash yourself up girl, put on some nice clothes and some good smelling perfume and get on down there and make yourself known!’
“Here’s your one chance Fancy don’t let me down!” No wait, that’s Reba’s mother, not Ruth’s.
Long story short, Boaz did take notice of Ruth and impressed by her loyalty and virtuousness, he married her. And because he was a relative of Naomi he was even able to redeem the family farm that had been lost to Naomi’s family when all the male heirs had died off.
It wasn’t long before Naomi had a grandson and her long dead dream of being the grandma, of handing down the family farm, and having a daughter in law to share life’s joys with, was restored. Her dream, her long dead— ‘never gonna happen now’— dream, was restored, as was Ruth’s.
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:14-18
I love that the Holy Spirit put this story in here, sandwiched between much weightier books, to remind us that he is a very personal God who cares about the individual.
He cared about Naomi even though she had given up hope. She had given up hope but she never stopped trying, she just kept pushing on and though she was convinced that for some reason God was against her, she never turned to another God, she never rebelled. God was still her God and he came through for her in spite of her hopelessness and despair.
Then there’s Ruth, a foreigner who did not even know Ruth’s God. Yet exemplified the purity of simple faith, in her willingness to follow her dead husband’s mother to a land she did not know, and worship the God of that land though she saw no tangible benefits to that worship. She had a faith and a virtuousness that put to shame many more religious women who never knew the tragedy she had endured.
Because of her astounding character she was restored and blessed, even becoming the great grandmother of King David, the throne of whom the Messiah himself would occupy forever.
Both of these women just kept putting one foot in front of the other and recognized the restoring hand of God when it appeared, and appear it did, when they least expected it in a way they could never have imagined.
What a great reminder of who our God is—the restorer of dreams.
Never give up, never lose hope, your God loves you and hears you.