Grace For Your Pain
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Ruth 1:1-19; 2: 1-2; 4:13-22; 2 Corinthians 12:9
Sunday 25th October 2015
If you are discouraged by the seemingly unchanged circumstances in your life,and you’ve begun to wonder if at all ‘excel’ is becoming a cliché to you, then this message is God’s way of reminding you that what you may not see at the moment is already completed in the mind of God, and surely it will soon become your reality.
Let’s read through the story in Ruth, which is the basis of today’s message: ‘Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah.And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years.
Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread. Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God, Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also,If anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her. Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.
The story of Ruth is a multifaceted story; a story of love, famine, disappointment, restoration, grace, redemption and salvation. I reckon that you would be able to relate to this story as you read through the four chapters that this book consists of. It is a story that conveys hope in the midst of the tsunamis of life and outlines as you read through, the unmerited favour of God. It confirms that the best is yet to come. Surely, it is not over until God says so. It is a story that confirms that you can find grace in the midst of the challenges of life. Where you are today is not the end of the journey, your best days are not behind you; they are ahead of you. God is not finished with you yet. Your story has not ended! There is a new day after the darkest night.
In God, there is always a new beginning. An understanding of this truth gives us stability through the journey of life. The facts from the professionals may be stacked up against you, but be reassured that God’s truth will always prevail. Here is Romans 3:4 which reads; ‘Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar…’ You may not qualify or measure up to the criteria but the grace of God qualifies you. Let’s take a closer look at this story in the book of Ruth. The three men in Naomi’s life – Her husband, Elimelech and her two sons – Mahlon and Chilion died in Moab, where the family had moved to after a famine began in Bethlehem, where they originally lived. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot, and were fierce enemies of the Israelites. As God’s children, we need to carefully interpret the situations of life, regardless of how difficult things make look.
Naomi was left with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. These three widows were in a desperate and hopeless situation. Then Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, when she realised that God had changed the fortunes in Judah. Her two daughters-in-law wanted to return with her, but Naomi prevailed on them to return to their families. Orpah agreed and returned home, while Ruth declined the offer and stayed with her. In life, we need to rightly discern those called to stay with us through specific seasons in our lives. Once those seasons are over, we should be able to wave them goodbye. On returning to Bethlehem, Naomi and Ruth encountered God’s grace and the story of their lives changed. Ruth met Boaz in Bethlehem (a kinsman to Elimelech, her father-in-law) who eventually married her.
Here are some lessons to learn from the life of this Moabite, named Ruth. Ruth 2:2 reads: ‘So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”’
The first lesson we can learn from this story is the unwavering commitment of Ruth to a new productive beginning, despite her pain: She decided to put the past behind her and move forward. Conversely, our difficulties should not be big enough to intercept our progress.
Secondly, Ruth was open to and positively disposed to the unmerited grace and favour of God: She anticipated a positive outcome to her decision. In life, we should be anticipating change.
Thirdly, she recognized that the season of her life had changed: It was harvest time in Bethlehem and she responded positively to this harvest.
Ruth and Boaz married and had a son, named Obed. A hopeless, idol-worshipping widow who could have written herself off soon had a glorious future ahead of her, because she was determined not to give up. I declare that whatever life may have thrown at you will become a stepping stone for you in Jesus name!
To fully appreciate this cheerful conclusion to Ruth’s story, we need to fast forward a couple of centuries ahead, and see the genealogy of Christ as recorded in Matthew 1: 1-6. ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king’.
Let’s expatiate the story of Judah in this scripture, as described in Genesis 38. Judah’s wife, Shua was a Canaanite woman with whom he had three sons – Er, Onan and Shelah. Er married Tamar. However, the scriptures described Er as a wicked man, and the Lord killed him (verse 7). Onan also displeased God with his refusal to produce an heir for his brother, with Tamar. So God took his life too (verse 10 NLT). Shortly afterwards, Tamar was sent back to her family, on a false promise from Judah that she would be sent for when Shelah is eligible for marriage. Some years later Judah’s wife died. After the time of mourning was over, Judah and his friend Hirah the Adullamite, went up to Timnah to supervise the shearing of his sheep. This was where he met Tamar, his daughter-in-law who had disguised herself, eventually leading to the birth of Perez and Zerah. Perez, whose background was questionable, ended up being included in the lineage of Jesus.
Next is the story of Salmon, the great-great-great grandson of Perez. Salmon married Rahab, described as the woman who lived on the wall of Jericho, bearing a son called Boaz. Boaz became the great-grandfather of David. Irrespective of what may have happened in our lives, we must be reassured that everything is working together for good, to God’s glory. It may not be noticeable yet, but it makes no difference nonetheless. Perez, Boaz and Salmon may not have fully understood all about their lives while they lived, but God eventually orchestrated their stories into the genealogy of Christ. Conversely, we cannot afford to draw hasty conclusions about our lives. Even our blunders and disappointments are still being used by God to shape His ultimate purpose for our lives.
Our lives are like a piece in the big picture puzzle of God. There is nothing about our lives that is wasted. Hence, we cannot afford to give up trusting in God, since the best is yet to come!
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