Out of steam

Have you ever “bottomed out,” reached “the end of your rope,” or “run out of steam?”  All those idioms picture us at the end of our internal resources and feeling like we cannot handle the present.  Care for others or even self-care is beyond our imagination.  Naomi has returned to Bethlehem embittered by her experience in Moab and grieving the death of her husband and sons.  Naomi seems to me emotionally flat.  The first verse of Chapter 2 tells us that Naomi did have a relative on her husband’s side, Boaz, but she seems too drained to reach out.  She has her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth, but we do not see her exerting agency in that relationship either.  Rather Ruth comes to Naomi with the idea of gleaning, gathering the dropped grain behind the harvesters.  Naomi responds, “ Go ahead, my daughter.”

         Trauma drains us and dulls our caring ability.  Even simple tasks like dressing ourselves, cooking, or cleaning become a burden.  This is not just the aged that struggle but anyone caught in circumstantial famine may come to a point of personal physical crisis.  Perhaps the point to start with this week is that in caring for others, often we who are in a better place (not to be confused with having our act together) must reach out to the struggling.  We have social agencies like Meals on Wheels or visiting nurses but the proactive approach of a friend or family is light in darkness.

         Boaz, we find out, knows the plight of Naomi and is listening to the stories circulating but he has not reached out.  Ruth initiates the “care plan.”  Ruth suggests gleaning in the fields. 

         Perhaps the challenge and encouragement for us today is to check our “gas gauge.”  Are there areas in our life or the life of another that need to be cared for?  Perhaps I need to turn on some music that feeds my soul.  Perhaps I need to take a few minutes and start reading a book.  It may be as easy as picking up my phone and calling someone I haven’t spoken to for awhile or dropping a card in the mail.  We do not need to be experts to initiate a “care plan.”  Let me challenge us today that care can also mean reaching out to someone we know we need to heal a relationship with.  There may be someone who needs to hear our forgiveness.  Who can you hug today?  Caring for others involves reaching out, trying new tactics and venturing in the face of possible rejection.  As I think of initiating a care-plan, I reflect on John 3:16 as God’s care-plan for us, “For God so loved the world he gave his only son so that whoever believed might have eternal life.”  How comforting to know God sees, cares, and reaches out to us even when we are struggling.  Blessing, he journeys with us.

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