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Dealing with Grief

Sooner or later everyone experiences the loss of a loved one and the grief that follows. Let’s examine the book of Ruth to glean what we can about dealing with grief. Naomi was a widow. She was left with 2 sons. The sons married, but after about 10 years the sons also died. Naomi was grieving. In Ruth 1:20, 21 we see that Naomi felt bitter about God taking her husband and sons; she felt empty, and she felt afflicted. But she decided to go on with her life. Her husband had moved them to Moab from Israel because of a famine. The situation was better back in Israel so she decided to return to her own land and relatives. She told her daughters-in-law to go back to their families and their gods. They didn’t want to return and tried to go with her. She urged them to go on back saying, “I have no more sons left for you to marry, so you will be better off to go back to your own families.” Finally, after much coaxing, one of them left. But the other one, Ruth, clung to her and wouldn’t leave. [Read Ruth 1:16-18.]

They arrived in Bethlehem at the time of barley harvest so Ruth went to work gleaning the stray barley that was dropped after the harvest. The boss noticed Ruth, was very kind to her, and told his workers to leave extra grain for her on purpose.

When she returned home that evening with plenty of barley for them to make bread, Naomi asked where she had gathered the grain. [Read Ruth 2:19,20.] Naomi explained an Israelite custom to Ruth. When a woman’s husband dies the nearest male relative is supposed to take her for a wife, if he can; if not, the opportunity passes to the next of kin. She told Ruth that she wanted her to be blessed, then told her what she should do to make Boaz aware of her situation.

That night Ruth did as Naomi told her to do. She went to where Boaz was working in the barn, but stayed out of sight until Boaz lay down to sleep. Here’s what happened next. [Read Ruth 3:7-12.] Boaz was very willing to marry Ruth but there was a closer relative than he, and he had to give him the chance to marry her.

Boaz went out the next day and met with this other relative and told him what was going on. The man told Boaz that it wasn’t possible for him to marry Ruth, and gave the privilege to Boaz. So Boaz gladly married Ruth. He was a wealthy man and was able to take good care of her. They also invited Naomi to live with them. Soon, Ruth and Boaz had a son. [Read Ruth 4:14,15.] God wonderfully blessed and comforted Naomi and Ruth.

What can we learn from this lesson? Naomi and Ruth both lost their husbands. Naomi was sad and bitter; she felt empty and afflicted, but she knew she had to get on with her life. Ruth loved her mother-in-law and chose Naomi’s family as her own and chose Naomi’s God as her own. Ruth drew comfort from Naomi because she understood what Ruth was going through. Ruth also realized that there was still family that needed her. God blessed Ruth because she chose to worship Him. He gave her a husband to take care of her and gave her a son. Boaz and Ruth invited Naomi to live with them and take part in these blessings. Ruth’s and Naomi’s time of grief and sadness were over.

Grief takes time to heal, but we shouldn’t stay stuck in grief--that leads to depression. We need to be able to get on with our lives. There are other family members that need us. Drawing close to God will ease our suffering. It is God that comforts people that are sad and grieving. He fills the emptiness and heals the affliction. He comforts us through His Word, and He comforts us as we pray and pour out to Him what is in our hearts, telling Him exactly how we feel.

He also uses other people to comfort us. It helps to talk to a sympathetic, Christian friend about what we are feeling. People that have gone through what we may be experiencing, can sympathize with us and help us through our grief.

Scripture References: Ruth 1-4; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Psalm 30:5.

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