12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
The story of Ruth is a story of redemption and restoration for a young widow and her widowed mother-in-law. They find themselves hopeless and isolated after their husband’s untimely death. This story also shows us the caring and nurturing characteristics of our God. The One who desires to provide for our every need, no matter how bleak our situation. In the story of Ruth, Boaz commends Ruth for seeking refuge and protection within God’s people. In verse 12, he even prays a prophetic blessing over her.
“ May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
What had Ruth done? She simply refused to let the bitterness of life isolate her from the community she was called too. There is a reward available, from the Lord, to those who are willing to humble themselves and take refuge in God, among His people. Father God is a family man and He loves His people leaning into and relying on one another for help and comfort. Ruth had experienced unfathomable hardship and had every right to turn from God and His people. If Ruth had chosen to isolate herself from the community and the God of her mother-in-law, Naomi, she would have had every right to do so. She could have taken the easy way out. She would have been perfectly within her rights to have gone back to her own country and the idols she grew up with. Instead, she humbled herself and leaned into the nearest assembly of God’s people that she could find. She depended wholly on them in her time of greatest need. She hid herself in the Church, or as Boaz put it, she found refuge under God’s wings. In doing so, she made herself vulnerable and available to God’s favor and restoration in her life. God really enjoys caring for us. One of the primary ways He nurtures us through pain is by surrounding us with His people. The Enemy does the exact opposite… During pain and times of hardship in our lives, he works overtime to try to separate us from the favor and restorative power of God. He deceives us into isolating ourselves from the community God has called us too and placed us in. His lies are predictable, but believable, when we are seeing life through the lens of pain. In the midst of your most desperate hours, God’s heart is that you would find His healing, restoration, and favor within His Church. He also desires the hardest moments of your life be walked out in the nurturing and provision of God’s covering, under His wings and in His family. Jesus echoes this sentiment again in Matthew 23:37…
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
Jesus was lamenting that God’s people would not allow Him to nurture them as the community they were called to be. Instead, in their brokenness and rebellion, they rebuked God’s covering in community all together. Again, the Lord's provision is found inside His Church. When we reject His people, we are rejecting Him and the grace He provides for redemption. As it did with Ruth, it takes great courage and humility to stay connected with community in times of distress and pain. There has to be an epiphany moment where we decide no matter how we feel about ourselves or the people we are called too, we are going to stay connected at all costs. The resolve in our heart is when we discover our place as a son or daughter in the family of Father God. We then will encounter the greatest levels of His healing and restoration. When we connect with His people, we are rewarded beyond what we deserve.