The Comfort of God’s Providence
God is sovereign, and therefore we can make bold choices.
As any nurturing figure would do, Naomi wanted her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth to be settled and cared for in life. So she urged Ruth to go to Boaz and ask him to assume the role of provider by marrying her.
Of course, we must be careful not to read too many contemporary notions into this Old Testament story, since that era had its own set of customs. However, we must also remember that this was the real life of real people in a real Middle-Eastern village meeting a real God and committing their lives unreservedly to Him. As such, there are eternal truths to be learned. Primarily, we can learn that while God’s providence rules over our lives, it does not limit our freedom in making decisions. God’s overruling sovereignty did not hinder Naomi’s reasoning or Ruth’s response. The Lord was sovereign over all of it, but not at the expense of their choices.
The story of Ruth is also a reminder that even when mistakes alter our lives, God redeems them for our ultimate good and His glory. Naomi’s husband should not have moved his family from the promised land to the land of Moab, the enemies of God’s people; and her sons should not have married Moabite women, since God’s law prohibited marrying into other religions. Yet these wrong choices brought Ruth to Naomi, to God, and into the line of redemptive history as an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-6). Such redemption is not an excuse for our intentional rebellion, but it is a constant assurance that we need not despair because of past mistakes.
Equally, God’s sovereignty in weaving His plan of redemption, first in bringing His Son into the world and then in calling His people to faith in Him, is a constant assurance as we face decisions and consider this or that course of action. We trust God through faith-filled action. Naomi didn’t just sit in her house waiting on God to act, saying, Whatever God wills will be. No, she took action by encouraging Ruth to take the next step in what seemed to be unfolding.
Trusting God’s providence does not mean we sit back and wait for the plan to unfold, singing Que será, será—whatever will be, will be—for “the future’s not ours to see.” Instead, we should be quoting Jesus’ words: “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). After Jesus prayed this prayer, He proceeded to live it out in perfect obedience, even to the point of death.
The path of life may have many twists and turns, but God’s word promises that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Take heart in this promise. Are you facing a decision? Are you wondering what path to take? God is sovereign, and God saves. Whatever you decide, live boldly and live freely within the comfort of God’s providence.
The Macedonian Call
6And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10And when Paul3 had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The Conversion of Lydia
11So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the4 district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
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