“Random!” “That was really random!” Us oldsters might exclaim, “What a coincidence.” “What are the odds?” Yesterday as I was looking for the phone number of the lady I was going to drop some crocheted baby hats with, the phone rang and she called me at just that moment. She had never called me before. What ae the odds? Years ago I allowed my arm to be twisted to attend a conference that cost $200 as I would receive a scholarship for half the cost. I hung up and went to the mailbox and there was a check from an anonymous donor in our church across the country … for $200. Experiences like that do not happen every day but when they do, we are taken by surprise.
Chapter 2 in Ruth phrases it as, “As it turned out, she found herself working in…” Ruth, with Naomi’s blessing, heads out to “glean” for food. For us that might mean going to the food pantry and just at that moment a load of something we needed arrives, meeting our need. Someone hands us a coupon. We find a $5 bill we had forgotten tucked away in our wallet. Ruth, though, is going out to glean and is approaching a potentially dangerous situation. Gleaning advertises the need the gleaner is living in and exposes her vulnerability as a female without someone to protect her. Added to this she is a foreigner and perhaps sticks out in a crowd. It is not known if Ruth recognizes this as the text records no warning by Naomi but as we read we learn just how vulnerable a position Ruth has put herself in. Ruth, perchance, unbeknownst to herself, starts gleaning in the field of Boaz, the relative of her late father-in-law. What are the odds???
Ruth comes home at the end of the day and reports to Naomi about her adventures and now we see Naomi’s character in caring. Ruth shares, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz, (2:19)” and Naomi replies, “The Lord bless him! He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead. That man is our close relative, he is one of our kinsman redeemers. (2:20)” Naomi who credited God’s hand in shaping the events of her life in Chapter 1, within whom Ruth sees a person of faith worth following, now sees God’s hand in the randomness of life. Naomi awakes from her depression and starts taking an active part in training Ruth. Recognizing God-care in the midst of her caring challenges and need for self-care, gives our women the strength to carry on.
Where do we “find ourselves” today as we care for others and ourselves? Are our eyes open to see the God-care, the hand of God reaching in and directing us in the random events of our life? Perhaps Naomi is at home praying for Ruth as she ventures forth that day, we don’t know. Ruth did not even understand Boaz to be more than a kind man and the grain she gathered as blessing of hard work. But part of caring for others is helping each other recognize the hand of God working, even as we struggle to persevere, and helping each other find hope in the midst of hunger. Today, let us pray for eyes open to see in the randomness of life, the hand of God guiding, protecting, and supplying for us. He is there even if unseen! Blessings.