by Mark Weltenbaugh
Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain. We all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know thereís always tomorrow. Lean on me, when youíre not strong, and Iíll be your friend, Iíll help you carry on. For, it wonít be long, till Iím gonna need somebody to lean on. You just call on me brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that youíll understand, we all need somebody to lean on. Lean on me...
You might recognize the previous paragraph as a popular song. Itís even been adapted and sung by some contemporary Christian artists. As I read chapter one from the Old Testament book of Ruth, I couldnít help but think of the song.
In the aftermath of a life-shattering series of events, three women find themselves alone in a strange land with no husbands, no means of support. Naomi, the mother-in-law of the other two, urges them to return to the home of their mothers where they might find other husbands ó for the only gift she feels she can offer them (other sons to be their husbands) is too crazy an idea to consider. After some pleading, one of the daughter-in-laws returns home, but the other makes an astonishing decision... she commits herself to Naomi for life!
"Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." Ruth 1:16-17
What a powerful lesson in faith! Hereís a woman whose husband, the only real link that ties her to Naomi, is gone. Naomiís not her blood family. Naomiís people are not the people of her descent. Naomiís homeland is not place of her birth, and her God is not the god she grew up worshiping. Yet she makes this life-long commitment to her... because Ruth understands that now, more than ever, Naomi needs somebody to lean on.
It would be a different world if we all had the character of Ruth. No more abandoned children in dumpsters. Families would seek ways to reconcile and work to remain together for life, not just for that sake of lowering divorce statistics but as a way to keep the love that brought them together alive. Churches would find a way to see beyond differences, personalities and histories and cling to the one person who made them a family in the first place ó the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else on Earth would seem more glorious than to stand by someone in their time of need... for it wonít be long till we all need a Ruth... somebody to lean on! Father, I pray that you give me the character of Ruth. Her commitment to Naomi humbles me and encourages me to be a better friend, husband (wife) and brother (sister). Thank you for her faith. Thank you for her strength. For if we could all be a Ruth to our families and friends, this world would be a better place! Amen.
The statistics challenge us. How will we respond?
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