I don’t always run directly to God over a problem, but when I do, it’s because I’m struggling with anxiety.
Like if someone asked me to speak at church. Or if I have to lead out a youth program. Or if I have to present at work. Or if I’m about to walk into a room of people I don’t know.
Whatever it is, if I’m freaked out, I fall to my knees.
I tell God how I wish it would go.
I ask Him to take away my social anxiety, just this once.
I admit the outcome that I’m wishing for.
Essentially, I paint a flawless picture of what I believe God will do for me. Then I go about my day, hoping that the harder I trust, the more perfectly everything will go.
But expectations are always so different from reality.
A fairy tale ending?
That truth came crashing into my mind as I read Ruth 4.
It’s the last chapter of the book and thus the last chapter of Ruth’s love story. Now that Ruth has spoken up to Boaz (thanks to her mother-in-law’s coaxing), he’s on his way to officially make her his wife.
But he doesn’t buy a ring. He doesn’t ask Naomi’s blessing. He doesn’t plan an elaborate proposal in front of friends and family.
He goes and speaks to the other guardian-redeemer for Naomi’s family, aka, the guy next in line to marry Naomi’s widowed daughter-in-law, according to Israelite law. Boaz tells him that the guardian-redeemer is allowed to buy the land that belonged to Naomi’s late husband and sons, but in the process he will “acquire” Ruth (verse 5).
I’m sorry, “acquire”? Like property?
Yes, apparently, because when the other guy turns the offer down, Boaz gleefully uses the word again. “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of [her husband and sons]. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife” (verses 9-10).
We all know that was just how it was in patriarchal B.C. times. But maybe it still leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. How was the idea of marriage and love different in a time when women were practically considered property? How did women see their husbands? How did men see their wives? How did women see themselves?
They’re not fun questions to dwell on, and the Bible doesn’t dwell on them. Ruth and Boaz marry. They have a son, named Obed. Years later, the chapter tells us, Obed will have a son named Jesse. And Jesse will have a son named David.
And it all goes to show that in the midst of our human mess, our backwardness, our failures and flaws, God still works miracles. He still makes beautiful plans for us. He still brings joy to our lives.
Yes, Ruth lived in a time where women were viewed as less than. But God met her during a difficult time in her life.
He became her friend.
He took care of her.
He gave her a husband and a son.
He loved her.
That’s the true love story of the book of Ruth. And it’s reason enough for joy.
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, because I am always with you.”
Why doesn’t God make things perfect?
Why didn’t He turn Israelite society on its head and command them to treat women equally? Why doesn’t He fix everything wrong with our society today? Why hasn’t He taken away my social anxiety?
These questions, and others like them, don’t always have easy answers.
But that’s never an excuse to push God out of our lives.
Because even though God doesn’t always do what makes the most sense to us, He promises to love us and comfort us and do what’s best for us, always while giving us the strength to make it to each day.
So even in the midst of mess and imperfection, we can have peace. We can sing hallelujah. Because God is with us and will never leave.
And that’s reason enough to praise Him.
What do you think? When has God blessed you in the midst of a less than ideal situation?