We are easily fascinated by the miraculous. As Christians, we can fall into the error of chasing miracles, always needing to see God do something supernatural in order to sustain our faith. Of course, our faith was not meant to be sustained by miracles. Miracles are often intended to spark faith in us, and that faith then leads us into a relationship with God which is sustained by His amazing love.
Still, we hunger for power. We want to see and experience God do the impossible, especially when the impossible is a situation in our lives or in the life of someone close to us. We know there are things which are beyond our own ability and will require God’s intervention. There’s nothing wrong with believing God for miracles in situations like these, but sometimes we get so focused on what we want to see that we miss the miracle He is actually performing right in front of us.
I love the book of Ruth. It’s a short book – just four chapters. But those four chapters tell the story of one of God’s greatest, and most overlooked miracles. Ruth is a young woman who leaves everything to follow her mother-in-law after both of them have lost their husbands. She was young enough to go home and remarry, securing a good life for herself and making sure her future needs would be met. But instead, she vowed to stay with and tend to her deceased husband’s mother, no matter what it cost her. The outlook was grim, as widows in her day did not have much hope. Still, in the face of more suffering, Ruth chose loyal love. Not many people love like this anymore. It is selfless to the core.
Interestingly enough, God is never mentioned in the book of Ruth. Kind of crazy, right? His fingerprints are all over it though! Actually, the whole book is one complete story of God’s amazing love, first demonstrated through Ruth’s loyal commitment to her mother-in-law, and then reciprocated through a man named Boaz, as he demonstrates the same kind of loyalty and commitment toward Ruth. Turns out, following her mother-in-law and being selfless in her devotion led her right into a future that was richer than the past she left behind.
Sounds kind of fairy tale-ish, I know. In reality, it’s a picture of God’s promise to take care of all of our needs when we seek His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). Ruth didn’t know God when she made the choice to remain with her mother-in-law. In fact, the story of Ruth is where we find the beautiful line: “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. ” Ruth took her wedding vows so seriously that, upon the death of her husband, she transferred her commitment to his mother. And while her mother-in-law’s future looked bleak, Ruth still chose to stay. And because she stayed, her path – which started out looking pretty crazy – led her into more than she could have imagined. An ungodly woman demonstrates godly love and ends up becoming part of a godly heritage. It could be easy to think that is the miracle in the story.
After Ruth meets Boaz, he takes notice of her and makes sure she and her mother-in-law are provided for. Through cultural practices required in their day, he becomes what is known as a kinsman redeemer, buying the land which belonged to Ruth’s father-in-law and thus inheriting Ruth as his wife, and Naomi as his mother-in-law, assuming responsibility for both. Once married, Boaz and Ruth have a child, who turns out to be the grandfather of King David, placing Ruth in the lineage of Jesus! Indeed, that’s pretty amazing. But it’s not the miracle God chose to highlight in the story.
The true miracle in the book of Ruth, and in our lives today, is the story of how God chose to redeem people through something called hesed: loyal, covenant love which demonstrates itself through selfless action. God could have shown up Himself in Ruth and Naomi’s broken lives and given them direction and miraculous provision from some rock, as He did through Moses. He could have sent a prophet, like he did with the widow in Zerephath. He could have raised their dead husbands back to life, like He did with Lazarus or the widow’s son. But instead, He remained unseen in the background of the events of their lives, all the while orchestrating the great miracle of His love to be demonstrated through the people He created and surrounded them with.
There are many miracles I desire to see God do today, especially when there is suffering present in the lives of people I love, or in my own. Lately it seems as though much tragedy is left unaddressed by the hand of God in our midst. But I continue to see and hear a faint reminder that God is working His greatest miracle yet as we are learning to love one another in the same way that God has loved each of us. God’s love moved Him to selfless and sacrificial action, He gave Himself – sending Jesus to redeem us. And because Jesus came, we have the same Spirit in us which demonstrated such selfless love on the cross. We, too, can lay down our lives and our rights for one another. And as we do, we, too, will see the greatest miracle of all: love that transforms and redeems.
I am learning to care for my family and my church community in ways that are more sacrificial, because God has allowed me to be there when things fall apart. His compassion in me, and His Spirit in me, provoke me to action, and His provision enables me to give something of what is needed. As I do this, I experience a new depth of joy and connection, and my faith grows, because I encounter the grace of God in relationships.
I have also been in a place of need recently. So much has taken place in my life that I can’t possibly juggle it all alone. I have needed a lot of help, and where I once tended to avoid asking for that help, I am now in a position of not being able to make it without the help of those positioned closest to me. As they have stepped in close to lend that help, I have seen God’s love so clearly, and we have all begun to experience a kind of revival we never expected. There is a unity about us that we didn’t have before, because where we used to just look for God, we are now learning to see and honor God in each other.
Habakkuk 2:14 carries a promise that, one day, the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that God has chosen to display the light of that knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus. And in John 17:22, Jesus tells Father God that the glory God gave Him, He has given to us, so we can experience oneness with God. Wherever hesed – loyal, compassionate, committed love – is present, God is revealed. Love is a supernatural work, a miracle we must be careful not to overlook. So often, God is working in our midst and we simply need our spiritual eyes to be opened to see Him in each other.
The beautiful truth is that we need each other. No woman is an island, and none of us were made to hang out on one. Although I’m an introvert and value time alone, love – especially hesed – is a welcomed miracle that connects us, and that connection deepens and enriches our faith in God, and the lives He gave us to live.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, may you freshly stirred to cherish real love today. May you have eyes to see where God is demonstrating the miracle of His loyal love through the people He has placed in your life, and may you be empowered to love them as He has loved you. In this, He will be glorified, and others will know that He is the God Who has come to save and not condemn them.