At some point in each of our lives, we will experience heartache and hardship—this is a given for us in our fallen world. Yet as those who belong to Jesus, we are able to process our troubles in life differently from those who are without hope. And the evidence of this truth is especially discernible in the life of Naomi from the book of Ruth.
But how do we take hold of this hope when it seems like the world is crashing down around us? Let’s look to the Word of God for our answer.
1. Reflect on His faithfulness.
When you’re not sure what the future will hold, you have to take a moment to look back and reflect. One of the best places to see the hand of God at work is in “The Hall of Faith.” Here in Hebrews 11, we read about countless examples of men and women of God who moved forward in faith and obedience. Like us, they didn’t have full assurance or clarity on what would come next. Verse 13 reminds us that each of these people “died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.” They knew that these seasons of darkness weren’t forever. They had to trust that their God was One who would prove Himself faithful despite the circumstances they faced.
2. Remember that your current hardship is temporary in light of eternity.
This isn’t easy to do when you’re in the thick of things, when grief is heavy and your pain takes up so much space. Yet the Lord in His goodness remains close to the broken-hearted. The apostle Paul encourages us with this simple truth: “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We would be unwise to downplay the difficulties of our current dilemmas, yet while we make proper space to grieve and process the shadows around us, we can still hold fast to the truth of the gospel: He is still making things new.
3. Look forward to what’s ahead.
When you find yourself stuck in what feels like an uncertain waiting game with heartache, remember to look up. Think of all the other times in your life you weren’t certain the Lord was going to provide. Then remember all the ways that He did, though we are so prone to forget. Think of all the ways He will continue to prove Himself in the future. With each new day comes a new opportunity to know Him more, a time to more deeply experience His love. He can be trusted to reveal Himself to us in the midst of our current circumstances, and His new mercies are certainly going to be revealed. In the book of Lamentations—a book written from a period of utter destruction and devastation—the prophet Jeremiah is still able to boldly proclaim, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” (3:22-23)
Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth is one of redemption, abundance, and celebration. In the last line of the book, we can even read the genealogy of David. And here in these last lines, we are able to clearly see how—through the hardships and heartache of Naomi and her family—the Lord would be able to bring forth the Messiah who would one day save not only them, but who also made a way for us all. The feasting and merriment did not come in the beginning; there was heartache before there was a harvest.
May we, too, be reminded that we serve a God who redeems all things, so that we can live as those with eternal hope.