Out Of Control?
If you’ve ever worked in kids ministry you know that it doesn’t take much for a whole group to get out of control! A simple thing, such as a kid farting, will distract and disengage the whole group! The laughter spreads like wildfire and curiousity on the far end needs to know what sparked the initial laughter. It takes serious effort to bring the kids back to a listening and attentive state, or even for the leader to remember what they were talking about!
Well, it doesn’t take much for our lives to derail or seem like they are out of control. Things are going along just peachy, as we would like them to, and then something happens that is out of our control and we are reminded that the control we thought we had was just an illusion!
This past Sunday we began a new sermon series; we began our look at the book of Ruth. It starts out disastrous. There is a famine in Israel. A Hebrew household (Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion) makes the tough decision to seek refuge in a neighbouring nation instead of sticking it out and trusting God. While in Moab, Naomi goes through the double tragedy of losing both husband and sons. Left only with daughters-in-law, she is pretty much hopeless (being a foreigner and in a patriarchal society).
The world would tell us that impersonal forces of nature and chance are the cause of our problems. Scripture, on the other hand, teaches that everything that happens does so under the watchful eye of the Creator. God’s sovereignty can be an uncomfortable truth to hold on to when we are the ones going through tragedy.
The trouble we have is with the expectations that God’s goodness will soon rectify our loss. Our perspective and desires often don’t match God’s timeline. It was 10+ years from when Naomi and family left Bethlehem to when they returned. Ruth 1:3 seems to imply that it was after Elimelech died that her sons took wives. Those marriages lasted 10 years. 10 years of infertility and then death. We can understand how Naomi’s natural conclusion would be that “the Almighty has made life very bitter for me…the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). A decade is a long time. But could God be using or even orchestrating these events for a greater good? Our finite viewpoint is so small and narrow. As we continue to study the book of Ruth we will get to see the whole picture of Naomi’s life. We will be amazed at how the King of the Universe, in the administration of his Kingdom, often acts in compassion and HESED for his people through the trials and troubles. (HESED is a Hebrew word that sums up all of God’s character. It encompasses covenantal loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, mercy, love. Too bad we don’t have one word like that in English!) And it is really only through difficult times that the HESED of God’s people themselves is evidenced. You can’t know true good without the bad! “While God allows emptiness to come to Naomi, he does so in order to bring her fullness once again in an even more significant way and brings great glory to Yahweh.”
We need God’s Word and God’s people to remind us (especially in tough times) of God’s character, timing, track record, and sovereignty. Our lives may evidently be out of our control at times but still God is always in control.