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Ruth & Boaz, Part 1: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Monday, November 9, 2020 by Maria Luisa Navarro

The Bible tells a double love story in the Book of Ruth.

During the three hundred years when Israel was ruled by judges, a famine drove a man named Elimelech and his family from their home in Bethlehem into the country of Moab. There his two sons married local girls, even though the Israelites looked down on the people of Moab as heathen.

A poor immigrant widow and her two widowed daughters-in-law

Then Elimelech and both his sons died, leaving Elimelech’s widow Naomi and her two daughters-in-law with no one to support them. This was a terrible situation for any woman, but Naomi was especially impoverished. She was too old to work for her food or marry again. So Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem, where she had relatives and where the famine had ended.

Ruth throws in her lot with Naomi

Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to stay with their own people, where it would be easier for them to remarry. The first girl agreed, but the second one, Ruth, had compassion for her aged mother-in-law and decided to take responsibility for her. So she refused to leave Naomi. “I want to go wherever you go and live wherever you live,” she said. “Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.”

So Naomi and Ruth made their way back to Bethlehem, where they were soon close to starving.

Ruth worked hard to support her mother-in-law

In the surrounding fields, a fine crop of barley was being harvested. Now, in those days in Israel, the law permitted poor people to follow reapers in the field and pick up stray stalks of grain. So Ruth decided to glean this free grain.

Soon she found herself in a field belonging to a rich man named Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi’s. While Ruth was gleaning, Boaz arrived. “Who is that woman?” he asked his foreman.

“That’s the foreigner from Moab who came with her mother-in-law Naomi,” he said. “She has been working all day and has only stopped a few minutes to rest.”

Boaz treats the foreign woman kindly

So Boaz went over to Ruth and invited her to continue working in his fields, where she would be safe and secure. She thanked him, and then asked why he was treating her so kindly even though she was a foreigner.

“You may be a foreigner,” Boaz said, “but I have heard about all the love and kindness you have shown to your mother-in-law Naomi since your husbands died. I know you left your father and mother in your own land to come here to live among strangers to help her. May the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, bless you for this.”

Intrigued by this woman, Boaz invited her to lunch the next day, hoping to get better acquainted.

(Story to be continued)

The meaning of the word compassion

In Latin, the “com” in “compassion” means “with,” and “passion” refers to suffering, as in the phrase “the passion of Jesus Christ.” So to have compassion means that you lovingly suffer with someone in their difficulties. You walk alongside them. Ruth showed compassion on her mother-in-law. She walked alongside her in her trouble and lovingly suffered with her.

Today’s prayer

Lord, please help me to be like Ruth, being willing to walk alongside people and share their troubles. Amen.

© 1998 Maria Luisa Navarro

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