Story tellers tell stories in certain ways for certain reasons. The Bible is no exception. When the narrator of Ruth tells the reader, “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clam of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz,” before Ruth tells Naomi, her mother-in-law, where she gleaned the food she brought back, he is making a point.
The reader is given a piece of information that Ruth, at that moment, was unaware of. According to the Levitical law, she found great favor in the field of the one man who could redeem both her and her mother-in-law from dire straits (Ruth 2:1). Her good fortune went well beyond the ephah of barley she brought home.
When Ruth tells her mother-in-law, “Boaz,” is the man whose field she gleaned in, her mother-in-law breaks out in praise. Naomi realized what happened, and we the reader do to. God was providentially working in Naomi’s and Ruth’s lives in ways they never could have comprehended before.
God’s providence refers to all the perfections of God – his wisdom, goodness, power, etc. – being applied to caring for his children through his unimpeachable plan that he established before time.
We get only glimpses of God’s providence here on earth. We can see the trees, but not the whole forest. Ruth at first only saw the provision of food. But, when Naomi heard the name, “Boaz,” she knew this was much more.
Such glimpses of God’s providence transform our lives. Once despairing Naomi now praises God. In this fallen world, hardships come. But, even in the hardest moments, unbeknown to us, God’s providence is no less at work.
When in your life have you been given glimpses of God’s providential movements? If you are going through hard times now, how can your knowledge of his providence in the past encourage you as you walk in darkness?
I once attended a preaching workshop where the main speaker drew pictures as ways to impress on our minds the main points of his teaching. He would say, “I have a picture for you.” Then he would take out his pen and start drawing some lines on his tablet that we would see on a screen above. He might draw a diamond ring, a lobster, or Punxsutawney Phil. But, before a picture was recognizable, it would just be one line after another. He would ask, “do you see it yet?” We would whisper to one another guesses, until someone would confidently shout out the answer. Then everyone would go, “Oh!” That is our lives – one line after another, after another. Right now, we just get the squiggles, the lines, and some hints, but it is ok. Why? Because we know who holds the pen.