by Sheri Schofield
The harsh realities of paganism surrounded Ruth in the land of Moab—until the day she met Mahlon, a young Jewish immigrant. Ruth’s people worshipped Chemosh, known as “the destroyer.” Her people offered human sacrifices to Chemosh, usually young children and babies. But when she met Mahlon, Ruth was introduced to the living God, Jehovah, whose laws required love and life, not fear and death. It was revolutionary!
Mahlon and Ruth were soon married. Mahlon’s brother, Chilion, married another Moabite woman named Orpah. But their joy was cut short when Mahlon, Chilion and their father died, leaving behind their three widows. Their mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to her hometown. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah eventually did.
But Ruth refused to be parted from Naomi. Why would she want to stay in Moab and suffer under the worship of Chemosh? She told her mother-in-law, “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,” (Ruth 1:16 NIV).
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, Ruth worked in the barley harvest to gather grain to feed Naomi and herself. The people of Bethlehem grew to respect the young widow for her faithfulness to Naomi. Eventually Ruth married a local landowner, Boaz, and provided a son to inherit Mahlon’s land, a son who was laid in Naomi’s lap, to bring joy to the widow.
While Ruth’s words to Naomi are often used in wedding ceremonies between a bride and groom, those words were originally meant to show the devotion of a young woman to her mother-in-law. Ruth became Naomi’s caretaker, her provider. She did it out of love.
Caretakers often support and provide for others who cannot live on their own. Older women care for husbands whose health is failing. Husbands care for wives who are incapacitated in some way. Parents care for handicapped children. Many caretakers work without thanks, for their loved one cannot speak or understand or express words of love. Yet those caretakers give unselfishly day after day, year after year, serving those whom they love.
Most people do not understand or even think about the sorrows of those who have taken up the role of caretaker in their homes. Often, those who give care do so out of an inner strength, upheld by the Holy Spirit. They have learned to stand alone, in God’s strength.
Valentine’s Day is very hard for many caretakers. Do you know anyone who serves in that capacity? Have you considered sending him or her a Valentine this year? How about a card signed by many, letting this lonely worker know they are loved and appreciated?
Let this Valentine’s Day be the beginning of a pattern among us. May the Lord help us seek out and recognize the Ruths who patiently and quietly serve others. Let’s tell them they are loved and treasured. We can lift their spirits with our encouragement. Let this Valentine’s Day go beyond romantic love and touch the servant-hearts of those in need of joy.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.
Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read.
Join the conversation: How can we show love and support for those in a caretaker role?