I love the story of Ruth. There’s so much in it – and I just get to point out ONE thing that got my attention today. Check out these two passages (one from yesterday’s reading; one from today’s):
“The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. Ruth 1: 9
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to [Ruth], “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? …” Ruth 3: 1
Ruth is Naomi’s daughter-in-law whose husband (Naomi’s son) has died. In the first passage above, Naomi encourages Ruth and her sister-in-law (who has likewise lost her husband) to return to their hometowns where they will hopefully remarry and each find “rest… in the house of her [new] husband.”
Ruth famously refuses to leave Naomi:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1: 16
Ruth refuses to find rest in remarriage, but, instead, decides to stay with Naomi and adopt her God.
Back in Israel, Ruth ends up giving rest to her mother-in-law by finding food for them. She gleans grain in a field after the reapers. It turns out that this field belongs to Boaz who is “coincidentally” in line to marry Naomi’s kin after the death of a spouse.
Ruth doesn’t know this, but Naomi does and she hatches a plan to matchmake Ruth and Boaz (which, by the way, works!). Naomi introduces the plan to Ruth saying, “…should I not seek rest for you…”
Once more, then, Naomi refers to marriage as rest.
I’d never thought about that before.
Rest is a BIG theme in the Bible. For Israel, rest meant a day of worship, as well as rest from enemies and hunger. When you were at rest, you weren’t at war and food was plentiful
Marriage represented rest from Naomi’s point of view because Ruth would be protected and cared for by her husband.
Let me tell you: I relate to that!!
I remember after I first got married, I had a feeling of rest, of having come home. I had a family, a place to relax, a place to fit.
After my husband died, I still felt that rest of family – since I have two daughters.
But I lost that sense of rest that happens when two people share their struggles, happinesses, and plans. I lost that sense of rest when someone else bears the burdens with you. I lost that sense of rest that you aren’t all alone.
I totally get, then, that marriage can be rest. And it is sad to me that so many marriages haven’t experienced rest. Because I think God created it to be, in part, a place of rest.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to be married to have rest. This passage has meant an awful lot to me, especially since my husband died:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I do have a husband now! As part of the church, I am the bride of Christ. And my husband gives me rest. He teaches me how to bear burdens with gentleness and love. I sure miss being married, but if I never find rest in that state again, I know my Jesus will walk alongside of me, and give me a rest no earthly marriage can provide.
Dear Jesus: Thanks once again for showing me something new in Scripture. Please give me YOUR rest and forgive me when I look for it elsewhere. Amen.