But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” — Ruth 1:16–17
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. — Romans 12:15
You may feel like you are all alone in the depths of your pain, but you’re not. An army of fellow fighters is also digging their heels in, refusing to give up on dreams of a new kind of beautiful life. If you are walking through the loss of a child, know there are other families walking through the same loss. If you are walking through the loss of a marriage, know you aren’t the only one picking up the pieces. If you are walking through the death of a dream, know there are thousands of others dreamers out there who are grieving with you. If you are facing a diagnosis you never saw coming, know you and your loved ones aren’t the only ones receiving bad news. Although your loss or circumstance may feel unique, remember that around the world — possibly even in your own neighborhood — people are courageously walking down a similar path, wondering how the world keeps spinning while their life is changed forever. Find these people.
- Find the fellow warriors. Find a community that sees you and understands you at a depth no one else will ever be able to reach. Solidarity is powerful, and it is available to you...
One of my favorite stories of the power of solidarity is that of Ruth and Naomi. If you’ve read the book of Ruth, you might be familiar with this tale of two women: a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, both unexpected widows, who fought hard to find their way forward after a series of horrific tragedies.
Following the death of her husband and sons, Naomi decided to make the long journey back to her native home. She tried to convince both Ruth and her other daughter-in-law to let her go alone, urging them to stay in their own country with their own belief system. Naomi argued her daughters-in-law were young enough to possibly marry again one day. But Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side, and in doing so chose to walk away from everything she knew. “Don’t force me to leave you,” Ruth said.
Don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us! — Ruth 1:16–17 MSG
Ruth’s words are powerful in this heartrending moment of the story. Were it a scene in a movie, I can imagine the score playing in the background, the buildup, the tension, and the emotion of this pivotal exchange. Ruth made a life-altering decision to be with Naomi. Not only that, but because of the strong cultural divides at this time in history, Ruth knew she would be considered an outsider, an outcast, or even an enemy of society if she went with Naomi — but she was willing to go anyway. Those of us whose culture values and praises independence may see this as an extreme choice. As I read this story I couldn’t help but wonder: Why? Why would Ruth ever choose to sacrifice herself like that? The only answer I could find is love. Because she loved her mother-in-law too much to let her suffer alone. This is the kind of solidarity that takes your breath away. Powerful, moving, rare, unbelievable sacrificial love.
Later on in the story, we see redemption for both Ruth and Naomi. Ruth met and found favor with a kind and generous man named Boaz, who looked out for her, let her glean his fields, and even provided extra food for her to take home to Naomi. As she began to see God’s handwriting a new kind of beautiful story, Naomi said:
God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good! — Ruth 2:20 MSG
Solidarity, faithfulness, love, friendship, and redemption: It’s the formula for a really great story, one we could read over and over again. Not only are we are reminded of the power of solidarity through the story of Ruth and Naomi, but we are also reminded of the goodness of God. Although we might not see our circumstances as good right now, like Ruth, we can choose to stay faithful, to work hard, to love sacrificially, and to fight for a way forward even when the path looks grim. May we all strive to be as good of a friend as Ruth was to Naomi. May we all strive to find the solidarity they found.
Perhaps the key to surviving, thriving, and encountering God’s love in a circumstance we never saw coming is through people — the people who would love nothing more than to be invited into the messy, level-zero rebuilding process with us...
A brand-new widow daunted by an unforeseen future and overwhelmed by grief called me looking for the same reassurance that I had once needed. I can confidently say my answer to her was the same answer I would give to anyone sitting across the table from me today: It will be okay. I don’t know how it will, I don’t know who it will involve, but I know there is always a way through to okay. Maybe even better than okay, perhaps even more beautiful than we imagined okay could ever be. I’m not there yet, but I haven’t lost hope that better than okay is still waiting in the future for me.
Excerpted with permission from Rebuilding Beautiful by Kayla Stoecklein, copyright Kayla Stoecklein.
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Part of the beautiful of being a part of the family of God is that we have brothers and sisters around us who are going through or have gone through similar circumstances to ours and we can lock arms and endure together. God gave us this community on purpose! Have you found your fellow warriors? ~ Devotionals Daily