Dear Modern Mama,
My parenting advice does not relate to everyday family activities or raising kids. Our family of four dealt with famine, moved to another country, and then my life collapsed. You might not want to listen to a widowed grieving mother, but give me the chance to speak of the love and provision of our amazing God, Elohim, and how He taught me to love others.
My husband Elimelech took our family from Bethlehem to Moab, so that we could escape the famine. In that pagan country, both of our sons Mahlon and Kilion grew up and married local women. First, my dear Elimelech died. Then, my sons also died. Such tragedy! I focused only on my losses, the deaths of my husband and sons. I became bitter against Elohim. How could God take my husband and then my two sons?! I had no sons to support me and no grandchildren to carry on our family line.
At first, consumed by grief and bitterness, I refused to consider anything but my tragedy. I did not appreciate Elohim’s blessing of two incredible daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. God placed these sweet women in my life to love, but my grief blinded me from experiencing that comfort. In my culture, a widowed daughter-in-law would marry one of my other sons. But I had nothing to offer: no more sons, no household, and no money.
Destitute and again facing the threat of starvation, I decided to return to Bethlehem. Both Ruth and Orpah insisted on accompanying me. At the start of the trip, I excused both women from any obligation to me. We professed our love to each other in a sobfest on the road. Orpah took my advice and returned to her family, but Ruth vowed to stay with me.
Ruth’s growing faith ministered to me. Just imagine: this young girl, who came to know Elohim through our family, now encouraged me! As Ruth learned about God and drew close to Him, she motivated me to do the same. Ruth became like my own daughter to me. (Read it for yourself in the book of the Bible named after my dear daughter-in-law Ruth.) The psalmist best summarizes our story, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6a). Elohim gave us hope and a future by placing Ruth in the line of the Messiah!
My advice to you is love the ones God gives you to love. Of course, that includes primarily your husband and children. But also recognize that God places other people in your life to be loved.
If you have experienced tragedy, do not become bitter over what you have lost. Open your heart to the others in your life. Share God with them. Pour God’s love into them. Do not be surprised when God chooses to work through all of you, like he did for me and Ruth.
Love to you from King David’s Great-great Grandmother,