For years our family struggled financially. As a mother, it was my role to keep the peace in our home and hold us together during stressful times. Not much makes me anxious, but one thing that stressed me to the max was the feeling of not knowing where our next meal would come from. I dreaded the moments in the store when I had to decide between bread, milk, or eggs. The thought of not being able to feed my kids was a fear that would take stronghold over me in between each payday.
Stretching our last dollar was our reality. Fear, worry, and anxiety were sins that had a stronghold in my life that left me tied to my financial struggles.
Do your current circumstances leave you looking for a dark hole to crawl into with hopes that the worries will all go away? We are going to walk a moment in Elimelech and Naomi’s shoes. With two growing boys on their hands, they are going to make a tough decision for their family. Little did they know this decision would impact history for all of time.
The book of Ruth takes us to a dark time in history where people who claimed to love God just did as they saw fit. Suffering stemmed from the Israelites’ immorality and apostasy. The people in Bethlehem had walked away from the Lord, refused to follow God’s commands, and did what was right in their own eyes. God struck the land with a famine as a punishment for their rebellion.
A famine is a time of hunger or want of food. Famine can have several causes: heavy rainfalls, hail storms, locusts, caterpillars, and the cutting-off of food by siege. As a result, food would become scarce and hunger would become the norm. If the crops failed multiple years in a row, the people would starve.
Famines were common in Palestine and Egypt. They were often sent by God as punishment when the people were in direct disobedience to His commands.
And sometimes the word “famine” could be used figuratively, like in Amos.
“Behold, the days are coming” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
Elimelech was a very wealthy merchant who was not used to going without. They owned a considerable amount of land in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was known as the House of Bread and the people there were indeed stripped of their blessings from God. Not only were they hungry, but they were personally experiencing considerable loss of their own crops. No amount of money could fix this catastrophe. As the fields died, Elimelech made a life-changing decision for his family.
Elimelech moved his wife and children to the most unlikely place: Moab. I once heard a gal, Bianca Ortiff, describe Moab as “Jersey Shore meets Miami Beach with a little Atlantic City Dancer.” Moab was place grounded in incestuous living and wild women to say the least. This was not the place God’s people would desire to call home, especially having two sons. Regardless of the risk, Elimelech and Naomi began what would be a painful journey out of the House of Bread.
Elimelech and Naomi did more than leave their home in search of food; they left the land and the promise of God to their people. However, what we read in Ruth is just the symptoms, and one must speculate as to the root of the problems they were experiencing, both as members of the children of Israel and as individuals.
I see them as having lost their focus and separated from God and His ways.
Like Elimelech and Naomi, we often find our sin drives a wedge between us and God. Sometimes we believe we are doing the right things at the time, but find the cost to our family very high. As we know from Scripture, leaving Bethlehem was a new start but not the end of hard times for this family.
Often, we may walk through more heartache and trials as we seek God’s plan. He will continuously use our circumstances to draw our hearts back to Him.