There’s a common thread that weaves throughout every story in the Bible, regardless of personalities, backgrounds, or circumstances: when people see that God is for them, their perspective changes, even their identity changes. Knowing that God is in our corner changes not only how we see the world, but how we interact with the world. During the coronavirus quarantine, it seems the biggest struggle for everyone, believers and unbelievers, is believing God is with us. Without seeing the intentionality and protection of the Almighty God in the coronavirus, we’ll naturally adopt a fearful perspective and that perspective will produce fearful reactions. A.W. Tozer told us, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.”
We need to discover how this coronavirus has either affected or prevented our solid, God-given, God with us identity.
Towards the end of the first chapter of Ruth, Naomi, recounting the death of her husband and both her sons, is convinced God is against her, as she says, “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1:20-21) When we sense that God is against us, it literally changes our identity, and our identity is the factory which produces decisions and actions. Consider that a factory of bitterness can only produce bitter things.
An alternate ESV translation to Proverbs 23:7 is, “for as he calculates in his soul, so is he.” Brothers and sisters, in the middle of this pandemic in 2020, are we calculating that God is against us because we’ve lost jobs, sports, and social connections? If we come to this conclusion, everything we think, say, and do will support that perceived identity of being left out or forgotten by God. As Naomi experienced, it’s natural to feel that way, but we mustn’t stay there; we must search for God, see Him, and He will restore our identity.
Sure enough, in Ruth 3, Naomi sees God at work in her and Ruth’s life. Ruth had gone out into the fields as a widowed woman – a difficult position to be in during this culture – and she was taken care of all day by Boaz, a family relative. She brought back more than enough food for both of them and Naomi responded, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (Ruth 2:20) As soon as Naomi caught this glimpse of God’s kindness in her situation, that he was for her, her identity changed, and she started believing, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Right away, Naomi contrives an optimistic and aggressive plan to have Ruth and Boaz married, and because of that, she gets taken care of, gets a grandson, and is considered blessed by all the town. (Ruth 4:14-17)
Though certain circumstances make it difficult to see, let’s not forget that God is always with us and for His children – that’s the point of the whole Bible. In Hebrew, Immanuel means God with us and that was never demonstrated bigger and better than in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God suffered on a cross and died – all to restore our identity as His beloved children.
Jesus testifies that God is with us and for us – before, during, and after the coronavirus.
Josh, I am sure your could have gone a bit further. Not only did the whole two know the new identity, but still unknown to Ruth and Naomi, was the fact that the trials Naomi met–all the bitterness and being deprived of her husband and sons, thus forcing her back to BETHLEHEM and he marriage of Ruth and Boaz took place. Who would have known or even guessed that out of THIS union would come the mighty and Almighty Savior! Imagine what Naomi thought of THAT when she learned of it in Glory!