“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land….”
Ruth 1: 1
New International Version
“A Famine in the Land” “Famine”: A drastic shortage.
“The more you abandon to God the care of all temporal things, the more He will take care to provide for all your wants.”
Jean Baptiste de la Salle
What “famine” do I face in my life?
How has this “drastic shortage” affected me?
Am I willing to trust my heavenly Father to provide for me during this time of famine?
“When we are in trouble or despair or have lost hope, we should do what David did: pour out our hearts to God and tell Him of our needs and troubles, just as they are.”
Hesychios of Sinai
“Bend an ear, God; answer me. I’m one miserable wretch! Keep me safe – help your servant – I’m depending on You! You’re my God; have mercy on me. I count on You from morning to night. Give Your servant a happy life; I put myself in Your hands.”
Psalm 86: 1-4
There was a famine in the land. A time of severe shortage. A lack of what was needed!
I’m certain if I had been among God’s children, the Israelites, during the time of Ruth, I might have asked this question. “Didn’t God tell us the land of Canaan was flowing with milk and honey? Didn’t God say this was the ‘Promised Land?’ God must have gotten it all wrong! God never told me there would be a famine in Canaan. There has to be a mistake.”
How about you? If God promised to take you to a certain place and then once you arrived your world fell apart, would you have even one tiny little question about God’s guidance in your life? I’ll be quite frank with you, the toughest part of life for me every day is when I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is leading me, and yet as I move forward, following God’s plan, trouble mounts up and smacks me down. More than once I have found myself, like the Psalmist David, saying to God, “Bend Your ear and answer me for I’m miserable!” Has this happened to you, too?
As we begin our study in the book of Ruth, the very first verse in the first chapter tells us that the family of Elimelech was living in Bethlehem in Judah and that there was a famine, a severe shortage of food. So Elimelech decided that because of this shortage, he needed to take the problem into his own hands, which he did, and moved his family, we are told in Ruth1: 2, to the land of Moab.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It should for we studied about another man of God who, when there was a famine in the land where God sent him, also came to the conclusion he had to solve the situation on his own and so took off with his entire family to Egypt. This man’s name was Abraham. He knew he was following God’s leading and doing exactly what God had called him to do. That is until a famine struck. Then Abraham decided God wasn’t capable enough to take care of him or his family. He took the job upon himself, as we all so often do. The results: catastrophic! For when Abraham left Egypt, he brought too much of what he acquired in Egypt with him and it nearly destroyed his family.
If there’s one critical lesson for us to learn from the famine that Abraham and Elimelech confronted it is this: when we are overwhelmed by trouble, when there’s a famine in our land, trying to solve the problem ourselves is the wrong way to handle the difficulties we face.
It would do each of us well to remember these words of wisdom penned by Samuel Rutherford, “I bless the Lord that all our troubles come through Christ’s fingers, and that He casteth sugar among them; and casteth the spirit of glory in our cup.”
I don’t know what “famine” is in your land today. But before we leave God’s path, like Abraham and Elimelech, and head off to Moab or Egypt, let us remember that our Father has a plan, perfectly laid out for us. In the words of Mary Gardiner Brainard: “I see not a step before me as I tread on another year: But, I’ve left the past in God’s keeping – the future His mercy shall clear; and what looks dark in the distance may brighten as I draw near.”
The story is told of the only survivor of a shipwreck who was washed up on a small uninhabited island.
“He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came.
“Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. However one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened. Everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you let this trouble happen,” he cried?
“Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.”
Today there may be a famine in the land – but tomorrow holds the bounty God knows will fill your life to overflowing.
“Be not dismayed at the troubles of earth…Only, fear God, only believe in His promises; only love and serve Him; and all things shall work together for thy good, as they assuredly will for His glory.”
“Almighty God, the refuge of all that are distressed, grant unto us that, in all trouble of this our mortal life, we may flee to the knowledge of Thy loving kindness and tender mercy: that so, sheltering ourselves therein, the storms of life may pass over us, and not shake the peace of God that is within us. Whatsoever this life may bring us, grant that it may never take from us the full faith that Thou art our Father. Grant us Thy light, that we may have life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
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