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Whatever season of life you’re in, God has equipped you to flourish—to live in the transforming power and beauty of His grace. As we age, we can easily lose sight of this message as cultural ideals glorifying youth take center stage.
In the book, Aging With Grace, Sharon W. Betters and Susan Hunt offer present-day and biblical examples of women who rediscovered Gospel-rooted joy in their lives. Equipped with a biblical view of aging, Aging with Grace will help you encounter afresh the Gospel that “is big enough, good enough, and powerful enough to make every season of life significant and glorious.”
Aging With Grace: Naomi
When someone mentions the book of Ruth, I think of the beautiful love story between Ruth and Boaz. That’s what makes it a favorite of so many. But there is another love story in that book that is just as beautiful, and it has to do with Naomi and God. The story of a love that takes a bitter widow and brings her to a place of flourishing.
Naomi lived during a dark time in history. It was at the time of the judges in Israel when everyone was doing that which was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, were apparently no exception. A famine had swept through the land, and we can only assume that out of desperation and hunger they headed for the ungodly country of Moab with their two sons. Maybe they had planned to return when things got better, but that’s hard to do when your sons marry wives from that area. The family’s decision to remain in Moab led to a string of devastating events. Elimelech died and then Naomi’s two sons died as well.
The dearest word in the Hebrew language is hesed. It has been translated in our Bibles as “enduring love,” “everlasting love,” “faithful love,” “eternal love,” “mercy,” and “kindness.” It is a hard word to translate because of the depth of its meaning. It is “a voluntary commitment and unbreakable pledge to act for the good of another in spite of emotions, often at great personal sacrifice.” —Sharon Betters
Hesed appears 3 times in the book of Ruth, but there are examples throughout. We see it demonstrated by Ruth as she promises her loyalty to Naomi…
"…where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die and there will I be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Orpah chose to be practical and stayed behind. Ruth, on the other hand, made her decision based on faith, and her pledge…her demonstration of hesed…became a new beginning for Naomi. Ruth was God’s gift to Naomi when she felt that God had forgotten her and left her destitute.
In our darkest hour we must look for God’s hesed. It is there if we just open our eyes. For Naomi it was in the form of Ruth. But Ruth had ironically learned it from Naomi. In fact, Naomi showed hesed to her two daughters-in-law when she prayed for them at her departure in Ruth 1:8.
Where and in whom have you seen God’s unfailing love lately? It is critical that we do see it, because without the eyes to see, we will never age with grace.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)
“'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
The greatest example of God’s hesed was the cross. As we follow His example of faithful love and kindness, we are demonstrating the Gospel to the world. God never quits on us, and we should not quit on others. This is a relentless love.
Naomi showed this hesed to Ruth through her encouragement and advice to move forward with Boaz. Though Naomi grieved, she did not let that deter her from the ministry of prayer and mentoring the next generation.
“God does not mean to touch only our lives by what He does in us; He has the lives of others in view – even those yet unborn. That is why life can seem so untidy for the people of God. He has not yet finished His business. There may be many loose ends. The tapestry is only partially complete. He still has much weaving to do in which He will bring these loose ends together, perhaps in someone else’s life in the future – long after we are gone.” —Sinclair Ferguson
God has sent us to His people to be His promise keepers. We are demonstrating His everlasting and faithful love when we tell them, “He has said, ‘I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!’” (Hebrews 13:5, AMP)
When we receive this kind of love from God ourselves, and then demonstrate it as Naomi did, we are aging with grace.
Be grounded in His unfailing, everlasting love, and...
How have you seen hesed love demonstrated, and how are you aging with grace today, friend?
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