Christian Living

Navigating New Seasons: Helpful Lessons From Ruth

By Dr. Jodie Chiricosta
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It’s a new season. So what do we do? It’s common to assess where we’ve been and consider the changes we want to make moving forward when transitions come. Whether we call them resolutions or goals, these decisions shape the way we live our lives. Yet, a decision without action remains more of a dream than a commitment to change.

Life unfolds in various seasons, some anticipated and exciting, like graduation. While others, like the loss of a loved one, are unwelcome and unforeseen. Others are instigated by God for His bigger purpose. Each season has distinct crossroads that force us to make choices that influence our future. Isaiah 43, some commentators say, was written for a people stuck between the past and an uncertain future. They were entering a new season and did not know how to move forward. Do you feel stuck in any way, or in a never ending waiting room?

In verses 18-19, the instruction is clear: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I think we are entering a new season, God is up to something new. The question is, how do we move forward to stay on the path He is making in the wilderness and access the streams in the wasteland?

Ruth’s New Season

We can learn a lot from the story of Ruth. Ruth had to navigate a new season in her life, one she did not want. But the choices she made put her squarely in the stream of God’s blessing. You can read all about it in the four chapters of the book of Ruth. Now, let’s take a deeper look.

Ruth lived in a nation that worshipped a false god requiring human sacrifice. She faced challenging times during the war-filled era of the Israelite judges. Married to an Israelite who came to Moab during a famine, she found herself widowed and childless within a decade –a vulnerable position in her society.

When faced with the loss of her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law, Ruth had choices to make. Custom dictated that a childless widow marry the deceased husband’s brother to produce an heir. Since her only brother-in-law had also died, that would not be an option. With no male relatives in Moab to take them in, her mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. She urged Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, to return to their mothers’ homes, recognizing there was no future for them with her.

Orpah jumped at the chance and headed home. We never heard of her again.

Ruth’s Decision

Ruth, however, did not want to return to her old life. As part of an Israelite family, she had heard about the One True God and experienced His love. In the natural, her future in Israel looked bleak. But Ruth put her trust in God and His love over the blood-thirsty god Chemosh.

So, Ruth clung to Naomi, and in Ruth 1: 16-17 declared “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 even death separates you and me.

She chose wisely!

Her Choices

But what did she choose?

• First, she chose to follow the true and living God – no matter the cost to her, no matter where He led. She committed herself fully – no looking back.

• Second, she chose to associate with people who followed God, starting with her godly mentor, Naomi.

Remember what I Cor 15:22 says, “bad company corrupts good character.” The company you keep impacts your life. If you associate with godly people, your faith and resolve will be strengthened. But if you constantly associate with those who live life to please themselves, it will be imminently more difficult to stay true to the Lord.

Ruth’s choices led her to Bethlehem, where the town buzzed with talk about the foreigner in their midst. Ruth chose to remain positive and hopeful, in spite of what she heard around her.

When seasons change in our lives, when things look and feel very different, we must CHOOSE to believe God has good plans for us. Satan will try to bring discouragement and doubt. But 2 Cor. 10:5 in the NIV tells us to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Because Ruth believed the good, she embraced her new life in her new land – -she embraced God’s laws and way of doing things. Of course, with no male protector or provider, it fell to Ruth to work and provide for herself and Naomi.

The Impact of Her Choices

Theirs was an agrarian society and Ruth’s hard work in the fields during the harvest season caught the attention of Boaz, an honorable man and a close relative of Naomi. God provided for Ruth through Boaz’s protection and generosity, underlining the importance of faithfulness in a new season. Despite the back-breaking labor, Ruth remained steadfast, choosing to be faithful and work diligently.

Ruth’s lot in life had changed significantly in recent months but as she responds to Boaz there is no bitterness or indignation about her plight, only gratitude. She kept a grateful and humble attitude in the face of her adversity and Naomi’s despair. You can hear it in her response to Boaz’ offer. “Why have I found favor in your eyes that you notice me a foreigner?” And ,“may I continue to find favor in your eyes, my Lord, you have put my mind at ease by speaking kindly to your servant – through I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

Her humility, gratitude and faithfulness opened new doors for her. She was invited to eat with the harvesters and even given more grain than she gleaned! God multiplied her efforts because she trusted Him and walked in His ways in her new season.

When Naomi saw God blessing Ruth’s work, she began to hope again. Naomi remembered God’s plan for a kinsman redeemer, a close relative who could marry Ruth and provide an heir. Naomi instructed Ruth to dress up and approach Boaz in private to ask him to be her kinsman redeemer. So, at the right time, still clothed in humility – Ruth was also bold.

She followed God’s plan and took action. Boaz, an honorable and godly man, consented and stepped in as Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.

God Worked For Her Good!

Long before the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 8:28, “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV), we see the principle evident in Ruth’s life.

Ruth’s love of God transformed her life from a childless widow gleaning in the fields to a woman who owned them. She went from a season of mourning to a season of joy, and her story became part of the lineage of Jesus.

Your New Season

Whether you’re in a season of mourning or simply feeling stuck, God is up to something new. Choose to follow Him, even if the path is unclear. Associate with godly people, and when God shows you specific steps to take, be bold but with humility. Keep a right heart and attitude, even if you can’t see what God is doing. He is always at work for our good. And remember that you too are carrying Christ in You, our Savior. Let Him shine through you so others will see your good deeds and glorify God.

I am excited to see what God is up to. Things in the world are a mess, but Psalm 2:12b tells us we are blessed (happy) when we take refuge in Him.

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Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is the host of the podcast Her God Story.

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