Not Without a Redeemer

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer…
— Ruth 4:14a

It has been a joy and gift to study through the book of Ruth, changing what I once knew to be some sort of Cinderella romance novel into one full of mundane and ordinary faithfulness.

I don’t fault Naomi, though a lot of people do. Finding myself in a season of what seems to have death laying all around my feet, the clothes of mourning less than to be desired, the garments of lament while in an ash heap leave more than blindness to some of the everyday happenings of good.

Reading today through another portion of Romans 8 found me finishing out the chapter:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:31-39

I love these beautiful truths, and yet, finding ourselves in seasons of dryness and desert can leave us feeling as if we have not actually been gifted with all of the gracious things we were told we would receive. Where is this disconnect?

I think of the many people who have taken Ruth without realizing the deep truths of the text to make it to be a prosperity story, like those videos full of “Rags to Riches” stories that leave you seemingly inspired and also full of both despair and self-loathing. When we make this story all about what was given to everyone at the end, truly, this full of death to full of life narrative, we miss a huge portion of the text: sacrifice.

I think of the gospel bleeding throughout these chapters, taking what was the very least in the world of a Jew, a barren widow from a foreign country, and raising her up to the lineage of the Messiah. I don’t want for Ruth’s story. Not one bit do I want her life to be mine. And yet, God made the everyday actions in the brazenly ordinary to be seeds sown of righteousness, obedient to the point where most are left saying that it went too far. God flipped what was foolish in this world to be wise. Even as these things just seem to happen, His purposes are found fulfilled, the Sovereign one showing himself to be who He is through His people’s hands and feet.

The disconnect is in the backwards nature of it all. Death is the end, suffering breeds no good, and ordinary means boring and lifeless; these are the “truths” we are told, even in some of our churches. Even if I disagree, the world around me grabs hold of this narrative, and I find it ever so quietly slipping into the way I see my life happening, my hope leaving with it.

In praying, asking God for these things to sink down deeply as foundations to not waver from, an inkling of hope trickled by. This long season has been wrought with deaths, pain quite consuming, and the many “why’s” seemingly unanswered. Yet, He has been on the move in this upside-down way, making room for His Kingdom in these small, empty rooms cleared out in my heart.

My hands are finally open, not clenched on what needs to be or what I think He may be doing. They are simply free from being so consumed with self and suffering, finally having eyes to see the good gifts in what He is doing in the middle of a storm of pain, another great answer to prayer I have been seeking.

I left my ladies this past week with a question, but an application I hope would help them to remember.

Where have you seen the Lord be the rebuilder of ruins?

Surely, the One who tore down the temple and rebuilt it in three days would know full well what death to life looks like.

And so, hope. I found it while giving thanks for this season I have begged and pleaded to be out of. Sacrifice, although happening through things being plucked from my tightly closed fists, has made way for joy.

He is rebuilding, even with an altar that is sopping wet, even through the lowest on the totem pole, even through the graves around our feet. He has not left us without a redeemer.