Divorce, suicide, depression, & illness are words that shoot through the air and into my heart.
They are heavy words, words that are crushing the hearts and lives of the people who are carrying them.
My heart has hurt for them and yet I cannot possibly imagine what it must be like to walk their path.
I struggle for the words. Then I realized, “my words were not enough.”
WAIT! That’s too hard. Words are my forte. So what can I say? What can I do?
I was recently reminded of the story of Ruth, and I noticed a couple of things I have missed over the years of hearing the story.
Most of us know that Ruth’s mother-in-law had lost both her husband and her sons.
Most of us remember Ruth’s “Wherever you go…” speech (often used in weddings, this is weird to me… but, whatever).
And who could forget Boaz marrying Ruth to take care of her and fulfilling his role as kinsman redeemer. It all ends with restored hope, new love, and a baby that is an ancestor of Jesus.
It is a beautiful reminder of how God works when we are faced with heaviness, but two things surfaced that I had forgotten or never heard before this time.
First, Ruth’s “Wherever you go” speech was not just pretty flowery words to make her mother-in-law feel better. They were a promise to walk through the pain. They were Ruth’s abandonment of the familiar. They were an affirmation of the faith of a God who can do more than words.
It was before Ruth’s speech that I have missed in other readings.
Naomi’s words are hopeless. She feels even God is against her. Ruth’s words promise Naomi that she is not alone. Ruth is going to make Naomi’s pain her own. Ruth has a family to return to and chooses to walk the path of pain to find out what God was going to do in it.
Ruth chooses the unfamiliar.
She chooses not to return home, which most likely holds parents and siblings who will comfort her, and chooses instead to be a comfort to others.
She makes a declaration of faith:
“Wherever you live, I will live.” Naomi had lost all close male relatives. She did not know where she was going to live.
“Your people will be my people.” Naomi had no more people, and little hope for having more.
“Your God will be my God.” Naomi wasn’t thrilled with God at that moment.
Ruth was doing more than just speaking. She was promising action.
Second, I had never remembered that there was a closer kinsman redeemer than Boaz (It’s true! Look at the end of Ruth 3 and the beginning of Ruth 4.).
Boaz did what was right by allowing this relative to have his chance. The closest relative was about to accept until Boaz mentioned the responsibility of Ruth. He then quickly backs out and leaves it to Boaz.
These two things really spoke to me.
My words can be more than JUST words.
My words can promise to be there when things get tough.
My words can calm and encourage others when I have somewhere more comfortable I could be.
My words can speak the faithfulness of God into hopeless situations.
Then I can follow through with those promises.
When my Mama passed away, a lot of people said the same words. It was kind, considerate, and expected, but there were a few people who, when I saw them, I fell into their arms. Their words may have been very similar to everyone else’s, but I knew that they were going to be more than words. These are the people who held me up and continue to do so.
They walked through the pain, the emptiness, the pity parties, and temper tantrums WITH me. All the while, leaving their own comforts and renewing my faith over and over again. THEY were MORE than words.
There was a kinsman redeemer in the story that did not do any redeeming.
I don’t want an empty title. I can be a mother or I can be mothering. I can be a wife or I can be a helpmeet. I can be a friend or I can be a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I can be a Christian or I can serve others.
Our God created feet and washed them.
Our God was a father and a friend.
Our God is so holy we cannot look at him directly and took on a form we could touch, see, and feel.
Our God is Conqueror and Savior.
Our God was the WORD that dwelt among us. He was not an empty word, but a fulfilled one. He was more than words. He was real. He was forgiving. He walked through pain. He became sin for us.
So when words are not enough, we can follow Ruth, Boaz, and Christ’s example and BE more than words!