Meditations for Troubled Times
“So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” (Ruth 2:3)
Ruth chapter 2 is a story focused on God’s providence, even in the apparently mundane and insignificant. After returning to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Ruth told Naomi in chapter 2:2, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” The primary way the two of them were going to survive was through gleaning in the fields. Leviticus 19 commanded that some of the harvest was to be left for the poor, sojourners, widows, and orphans to pick. Ruth knew this, and Naomi encouraged her to go.
Why didn’t Naomi go with her? Even though she was an older woman, she probably could have done some picking. However, perhaps Naomi was still depressed given the deaths of her husband and sons. Maybe, she was paralyzed by her bitter circumstances. Whatever the reason, Ruth went alone, and that was dangerous. She was a young woman going to gather grain in fields where she knew no one. Who would make sure that what she picked was not stolen? Who would look out for her safety, especially given that she was a Moabite? Her ethnicity was something that opened her up to discrimination. It could have led to her being turned away from a field or brought into one for sinful purposes. What she was about to do was dangerous.
However, verse 3 tells us, “…she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” By some ‘wild fluke’ she found herself on the acreage of a man who was a relative of her deceased father-in-law, and this man, Boaz, would eventually become her husband. They would have a child whose grandson would be King David, and from whose lineage our Savior, Jesus, would come. In the original language verse 3 literally reads, “by a chanced chance, she ended up in this particular field.” What a ‘lucky strike’ for Ruth. Or was it? The truth is the writer is stating the opposite. It is as if he is winking at us saying, “It just so happened that she ended up on Boaz’s land.” It’s a subtle way of reminding us that nothing is outside of God’s providential control. Seemingly insignificant things, like which field Ruth chose to go to, are a part of his sovereign plan.
Which means, everything we do is meaningful—washing clothes, doing school work, cutting grass, going to work, or serving our neighbors in unseen ways. There are no trivial events in our lives, because God is providentially at work through all our actions, for the good for his people. Do you believe this? If so, you can find joy in the ordinary and everyday things of life. Even in a pandemic, when at times we feel trapped at home, doing the day-to-day? Yes. Why? Because, God mysteriously governs and orders all his creatures and their actions, and this includes playing with kids, grocery shopping, praying for people, or cooking a meal for someone. They are all a part of the tapestry he is sovereignly weaving. They are important details of the story the Lord is telling. So do all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Do them with excellence. Do them joyfully. Do them with faith, trusting the Sovereign to use them. Given his providential working in this world, there are no insignificant events.