Triumph in Tragedy
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Ruth, that portion of the Word of God which we are studying together. Keeping in mind that we did not finish our discussion that we began last week, we are going to need a bit of review to take up where we left off in our last discussion. You will recall that in our study of the book of Ruth, we have been following the outline with which I trust you are familiar: Chapter 1, Ruth returning to the land of Bethlehem-judah; chapter 2, Ruth reaping; chapter 3, Ruth resting; and chapter 4, Ruth rewarded. In our last lesson we discussed with you, in chapter 4, Ruth rewarded.

We take up the analogy of chapter 4 of the book of Ruth. You will recall that we told you that the title of chapter 4 might be “Ruth Rewarded.” Analogically, we said that it represented the reward of faith. We pointed out to you, in discussing the reward of faith, that faith, though it is the gift of God as described in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9, in relation to the salvation of the believer, so that you don't ever need to worry whether you have enough to be saved or not, faith still is a matter of development. In Romans, chapter 1, verse 17, we learned that the Apostle Paul said, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” The Berkeley translation is “faith leading to faith.” The Amplified translation is, “disclosed through faith arouses more faith;” and Williams' translation is “the way of faith that leads to greater faith.” These three renderings, among others, amplify what we are saying to you, that faith is a matter of development. You may not have all of the faith right at the moment that you would like to have. You may not have all of the faith at the moment that you would need in order to do certain things that you would like to do. Do not be discouraged, and do not reach the place where you feel that you can't carry on because of the lack of faith that you have. Recognize, as we suggested to you, that faith is indeed a growing thing.

In our last lesson, we emphasized that fact as scriptural truth by calling to your attention a parable of the growth of faith which the Lord Jesus Christ gave in chapter 4 of the Gospel of Mark, verses 26-29. As the corn grew, so does faith. First appears the blade, then the ear, then the full-grown corn, and eventually the harvest. So is faith. We tried to illustrate to you in the book of Ruth, climaxing in our study of chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, how this book illustrates that very fact. In the very first portion of the book you had the blade of faith, you might say, as it appeared in the life and testimony of Ruth when she said to Naomi, “Thy God shall be my God.” Then we saw the blade growing into the ear when Ruth, instead of sitting at home quite content to let things happen as they might, requested that she might glean in whatever field that she might find grain. We found her faith in the full-grown corn stage in verse 18 of chapter 3 where Ruth was resting in her house while Boaz, a type of the Lord Jesus, was the restless one, doing what he could to bring about the fulfillment of his promise.

We said that you have reached the place of full-grown corn when you are able to sit with the assurance that your prayer is answered. Notice, please, what I am re-emphasizing–the assurance that your prayer is answered, not that the prayer is answered as far as the actual physical facts are concerned, but the assurance that it is answered. You don't find the actual full faith of answered prayer until you reach chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, which we referred to as “the harvest.” We told you then that as Ruth was able to enjoy the full harvest of her faith by giving birth to a child that was going to be a great blessing to her mother-in-law, Naomi, the harvest of faith became a reality.

That was as far as we were able to get, and we told you when we began our discussion that we had several analogies that we wanted to draw to your attention. “The Reward of Faith” was the first and only one that we were able to think with you about last week.

Boaz's Offer of Redemption

To refresh our minds as to the content of chapter 4, I would like for us to take the time to read it again:

Ruth 4

1Then went Boaz up to the gate [that is the place where all matters were decided] , and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

He turned aside and sat down. This was what Boaz was doing while Ruth was resting at home. The reason that he was doing this, you will recall, is that there was a nearer kinsman than was Boaz who had the right of redemptiom. Boaz had to know whether this man wanted to redeem the property of Elimelech; if not, then Boaz was ready to. So there in the gate, where matters were decided, in verse 2:

Ruth 4

2And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
3And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

We pointed out to you that the phrase, “selleth a parcel of land,” does not mean she was about to sell it. She already had. The fact that he referred to Elimelech as his brother does not mean that he was his brother; it means that he was kin to him. The word “brother” is used very widely in the Scriptures.

Ruth 4

4And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people [that is, in this public meeting I wanted to give you an opportunity to buy the land if you will] . If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee [Mr. So-and-so, because his name is not given] . And he said, I will redeem it.
5Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

This put an entirely different light upon the picture. Mr. So-and-so was ready to redeem the land, but when he found out it was necessary to marry Ruth, the Moabitess, He declined to follow through.

Ruth 4

6And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

Perhaps his reason for marring his inheritance, we suggested to you, was that this inheritance of Elimelech would be involved with his own inheritance and there might be a problem of distribution in relation to all of his children; or perhaps more likely he did not want to marry a Moabitess because a Moabitess was condemned as far as God was concerned in relationship to Israel.

Ruth 4

7Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
8Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

This represented the same thing that we might do today in signing a legal document before a notary public. You will notice in verse 9:

Ruth 4

9And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
10Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

The phrase, “from the gate of his place,” suggests that he did what he did in relation to Ruth that the name of Elimelech might always be represented in the gate of any city where all the council meetings were held. Then in verse 11:

Ruth 4

11And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
12And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.
13So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.
14And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

We are going to stop our reading right there because that is sufficient for the second analogy that we would like to bring to your attention. Keep in mind that we have presented analogies related to each one of the chapters in the book of Ruth, beginning in our last lesson with the analogies in chapter 4. Naturally our primary interest is going to be found within chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, though our comments will be related to the entire book in order to present the story as it actually is.

I love this analogy that I am about to present to you, and I never read this lovely little book of Ruth without this particular analogy coming to mind. You may find another way to phrase it. I have phrased it, “triumph out of tragedy.”

I am so glad that we are serving a God who can bring victory out of defeat. We are serving a God who can bring triumph out of tragedy. I am so glad today that we are serving a God who does not cut us off when we fail, when we disappoint Him, when we are disobedient, and say to us in so many words, “You have had your chance. It's too bad, but that is all there is.”, and an indivdual has to live all of the rest of his life with the fruits of his tragedy.

Results of Disobedience

I don't want you to misunderstand that statement and think that I am suggesting to you that God winks at evil and that God condones disobedience. In order that you do not think that I am suggesting such a thing, I would like for us to trace this story through the book of Ruth.

First, looking at the tragedy, it began with the disobedience of Elimelech in the first verse of the chapter. You will recall that there was a famine in the land of Bethlehem-judah, and Elimelech took his family and left Bethlehem-judah and went down into the land of Moab.

A person who is not spiritually oriented might say, “Why is that such a tragedy? Why does it even represent an act of disobedience?” We don't have time to go into it in detail, because we have already presented it when we looked at this first chapter; but let me briefly say that God had ordered Israel to stay in the land, famine or no famine. God had said, “I will feed you; even if there is no crop, I will feed you.” They ought to have known that He would and that He could because He led them forty years through the wilderness.

The Spirit of God's comment on that wilderness journey that lasted forty years was that their clothes waxed not old and the leather that their shoes were made of did not even have cracks in it. He fed them with manna from Heaven. The angels' food is something better than any human hands could possibly provide, but it takes a lot of faith to stay in any place where there is no provision that the human eye can see. I would like to emphasize today that failure to trust God in any area where the Word of God plainly states our trust is expected represents disobedience.

The reason I would like for you to see that is that so often we think of some terrible, social sin as being a horrible thing and are prone to excuse little things, as folk refer to them, like disobedience. We have suggested to you before that every disobedience receives a just recompense of reward, so we are not at all surprised to recognize here that God deals with disobedience in discipline. This is where the tragedy really enters in. Of course, it has its roots in disobedience, but oftentimes folk don't know of the disobedience until the disciplining hand of God begins to operate, and then the tragedy occurs.

The Tragedy of Spiritual Drought

The first thing that we notice as part of the tragedy was what I referred to as a “spiritual drought,” a spiritual leanness of soul. It is indicated in chapter 1, verse 4. The spiritual drought is indicated in the fact that the sons of Elimelech married Moabitish girls, which was a direct violation of the Word of God, as much as a direct violation of the Word of God as it would be today for a believing boy, a Christian boy, to marry a non-Christian girl. The Word of God says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Any Christian girl who marries a non-Christian boy, or a Christian boy who marries a non-Christian girl, is disobeying the Word of God. Any preacher who officiates at a union such as that is disobeying the Word of God. This is exactly what these boys did, and I am convinced they did it because Elimelech, their father, was out of fellowship. A man who is out of fellowship has a way of winking at a great many things his children do which he knows are in direct violation of the Word of God. Sometimes he is even careless about instructing his children as to the truth of the Word when he himself is out of fellowship. So I say that the first tragedy could be described in the words, “a spiritual drought.”

If you know what I am talking about, you know what a tragedy it is. You know the misery that is in your soul when you sing the old songs you have always sung, but somehow you are singing them from the lips out. You know what a tragedy it is when you pray because you are expected to pray and someone asks you to pray and the Heavens are brass. The words are bouncing right back into your face. You would give almost anything if you didn't have to pray, but you have to go through the motions, and you sit in church because you can't afford to let anyone know that you are out of fellowship, so you go. You go through the motions, and it isn't that you're bored by an uninteresting speaker, necessarily, but you're horribly uncomfortable. The Devil tries to make it easy on you, rationalizing that the heat isn't at the place it ought to be, or the cooling isn't at the place it ought to be. If you are too hot or too cold, I am not suggesting that you are out of fellowship; I am merely suggesting that the Devil has a way of using these things to alleviate the spiritual drought in which you yourself know you are.

The spiritual drought is described elsewhere in the Word of God as “leanness of soul.” Remember, this is sometimes what God does by way of discipline. He said to the Israelites when they wanted what they wanted instead of what God wanted them to have, “I'll give you what you want, but I will send you leanness of soul.” Oh, how lean they were. They were glad when fellowship was restored.

Physical Death as Discipline

Not only was there spiritual drought that made up part of the tragedy, but physical death also makes up part of the tragedy. I would say today that the one succeeded the other, because if you examine the text, you will find death came; then spiritual drought was mentioned, and then death is mentioned again. All I am going to say to you is that sometimes physical death is part of the dicipline and consequently part of the tragedy, so we read in the Scripture that Naomi was left alone. She had gone down into the land of Moab with a fine husband and two fine sons. They died while they were there. It was a big price to pay for disobedience.

The third thing that we would call to your attention is that this family was found materially destitute, and Naomi returned home, and the whole city turned out to see her come back home. They rejoiced to see her. They said, “Is not this Naomi?” “Naomi,” of course, means “pleasant.” She said, “Well, I am who you think I am, but I need another name. You should be calling me 'Mara' [which means 'bitterness'] because I went out full and have come back empty.” The good words, Beloved, in that statement are, “I have come back.” How glad I am that Naomi could come back. How glad I am that God took her back. The tragedy was that she was empty when she came back. She had lost everything that she had.

If I should be speaking to some folk today who are out of fellowship, this is the tragedy that you face, so the sooner that you come back, the better off you are going to be. I don't know that I am speaking to anyone who is out of fellowship, but I daresay that I am speaking to individuals who have families and loved ones who are out of fellowship. Though you may not be able to speak to them, and I might suggest to you that it would be wise for you, in some instances, not to speak to them, I would suggest that you speak to the Lord about them before the tragedy reaches the excesses that I have suggested to you, because the tragedy will come. That is what is so very heartbreaking about it.

Triumph Related to God's Grace

If I had to stop our discussion right here, I would stop with my own heart saddened. We have come together to have our analogy from chapter 4, and so I am glad to say that we don't have to stop with the tragedy. We can conclude our thinking of this particular analogy with the triumph. We can see how God, in His mercy and in His grace, is willing and does bring triumph out of the tragedy.

The first thing that I would like for you to notice in relation to the triumph is related to God's grace. Remember this: There could be no triumph out of tragedy were it not for God's grace. There would never be any victory brought out of defeat were it not for God's grace.

The first place that we are introduced to the grace of God in the book of Ruth is in chapter 2 where Ruth the Moabitess suggested to her mother-in-law that she be allowed to go out and glean in the fields of him with whom she would find grace. Of course, we know that in God's grace she was able to find a place of gleaning in the fields of Boaz.

Beloved, we would like to emphasize to you that God's grace is still working. If your life is touched by tragedy because of your own foolish disobedience, don't go to God and say, “God, I think you ought to do something for me because I have changed. I'm living differently from what I did, and I have given up all of the old things, and I have thrown all of the old things aside.” Don't do that. You can't bargain with God. Just rest in His grace and know that this is the Age of Grace. The Age of Grace is the only reason that God tolerates some of the things that He tolerates.

We were talking at breakfast this morning about an illustration that one of the children brought to mind. There is this sign with a hand with the finger pointing upward and the words “one way.” You see it many places. I am not particularly sold on the sign, but at least to some it indicates the truth that there is one way and that one way to Heaven is Christ, but this child told me that some young people had given the sign, “one way,” and then suspended from it a lot of beer cans by some strings. Grandmother said, “Well, I will tell you one thing. If this had been the Old Testament days, they would have been struck dead for such blasphemy and such sacrilegious action.” It is true because God struck men dead when they dared to play fast and loose with His mercy in many instances, but in this Age of Grace it rarely happens, so we forget how God feels about things and we think we can placate Him by our good actions and our good works. It is not of works; it is all of grace.

Triumph Related to the Faithfulness of God

The triumph that came out of the tragedy here in the book of Ruth was due to God's grace, and so will it be in your life. But it is due to something else that I would call to your attention. That is the faithfulness of God. God is faithful.

The whole book of Ruth, as we pointed out to you in our introductory remarks, is based upon two definite passages of Scripture found in the book of Deuteronomy and in the book of Leviticus. God's Word is at stake, and God is faithful to His Word. That's the reason that Naomi would say to Ruth in chapter 3, verse 18:

Ruth 3

18…Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

The man here of course is Boaz, and as we have pointed out to you, Boaz is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will not rest until His Word is fulfilled.

A portion of the Word which has always brought a great deal of comfort to my heart is found in II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 13:

II Timothy 2

13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

This passage might be translated, “Though we are faithless, though we don't keep His Word at all, we disobey Him; yet He still is faithful because He can't deny Himself.” He can't deny His Word. Discipline us, He will, but forsake us, He will not. He will not let His disobedient child be cast away on the trash heap, a useless thing.

Triumph Related to the Power of God

That leads me to suggest to you that there is another reason there is triumph possible out of tragedy, and that is the power of God. Look again in chapter 4 of the book of Ruth and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 13. These words are beautiful to me.

Ruth 4

13So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

We pointed out to you in our last lesson that this was a miracle–not a miracle in the sense that the virgin birth was a miracle, but a miracle in the same sense that Sarah was permitted to conceive Isaac. The whole paragraph would indicate that it was the work of God and the work of the power of God, because you will notice in verse 14:

Ruth 4

14And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman,…

I want you to stop right there and think with me that this is the way that she was when she came back from Moab. She was without a kinsman. She was without any male heir in the family, and all of this because of her disobedience along with that of Elimelech. God could have left her in the mess she got herself into, but He didn't. He brought her out of the tragedy–triumph out of tragedy, victory out of defeat. You will notice how God does exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think sometimes. “Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.” The text in the King James version does not make it clear as to the real import of the text. The text is, “And this kinsman whom he has brought into your life shall be famous in Israel. Not only did he bring you a kinsman, but he is going to make this kinsman a famous person in Israel.”

So that you will be thinking clearly today, let me remind you that they were not talking about Boaz. They were talking about Obed. It wasn't Boaz who was to be famous in Israel. It was to be the little baby whom they had named “Obed” whose name we have told you means “servant.”

A Restorer of Life

Now look at verse 15. It shows how God piles one blessing upon another:

Ruth 4

15And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life,…

You see, Naomi said when she came back from Moab, “I might as well be dead. I'm alive, but I might as well be dead.” Some of you may know what I am talking about. Perhaps in the midst of your disobedience, perhaps in the midst of God's discipline, perhaps in the midst of your tragedy, regardless of why the tragedy has come, you are alive; your heart is beating; your lungs are breathing; you are alive. Really you are dead and you know it. If you had nerve enough, you might even go ahead and finish the job. I know some Christians who have tried it. Some have not succeeded; some have. You are alive, but you are not. That is the way Naomi was. But notice God's grace. He said, “This child shall be a restorer of life unto you.” Something else wonderful, “nourisher of thine old age.” Do you see the grace of God? If Naomi had gotten barely over the line, then that would have been good enough, but God does something even more.

Turn, please, to a passage of Scripture in Isaiah, because the words express what I want to leave with you. They express the thought so much more beautifully than I could express it, because they are the inspired words of God. These words apply to the Lord Jesus Christ. They speak of Him. By interpretation they apply to the nation of Israel, but they still illustrate how God can bring triumph out of tragedy. Notice:

Isaiah 61

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,…

Now, Beloved, Christ does that. Someone asked me yesterday, “You know, I am a little bit bothered about this business of pastors not having time to do anything but teach the Word. Aren't they supposed to be shepherds like the Lord Jesus Christ was the Great Shepherd?” I said, “Well, that is what the Word says. The Word says He is the Great Shepherd. We are the undershepherds. Yes, it is important to teach the Word.” I said to you in the beginning of our discussion that if I had to choose between being the preacher, the Bible teacher that stood on the back of the truck and threw out the food and let whoever got it as they could get it, and the man who stood with the cookie jar and made it available, I would rather be the latter. Beloved, we need to learn to bind up the brokenhearted. Christ does that. I say to you if He had bound up Naomi's broken heart, that would have been all that she deserved, but notice:

Isaiah 61

1…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, [this is what I want you to get right here. I think this is beautiful.] to give unto them beauty for ashes,…

Naomi came home, her life in ashes, and for the ashes God gave her the beauty of a newborn baby. I can't think of any greater contrast to convey what God is able to do than that–the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

A Garment of Praise

Are you living with a spirit of heaviness? You know whether you are or not. Some of us are. Isn't it a good thing to know that God in His mercy and in His grace, and in His faithfulness will change that spirit of heaviness one day for a garment of praise? You know, sometimes you buy clothes, or you have them given to you, or you don't particularly like them because the clothes are too heavy. They are just uncomfortable. Someone may say, “Why don't you wear that dress, or that coat, or that suit, or whatever? Why don't you wear it more than you do?” “Well, I just don't enjoy wearing it. It is too heavy.” That is the way it is with the spirit of heaviness. Then you get some garment that is light, perhaps because of the material of which it is made and the way it is made, and you just enjoy wearing it every time you put it on. Someone will say, “Why do you wear that so much?” “Well, I enjoy wearing it.” You see this is what we are talking about. Someday God is going to exchange the spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise. He did for Naomi, and He will for you.

Another Vessel

There is one other passage of Scripture that I feel impelled to draw to your attention. It is found in chapter 18 of the book of Jeremiah. It is a story with which you are familiar, the story of a lesson God wanted Jeremiah to learn by going down to the potter's house. It reads this way:

Jeremiah 18

1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
4And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
6O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Since we are applying today and not interpreting, we could read the last statement there in verse 6: “Oh believer, child of God, can I not do with you,” God said, “as the potter did with the clay?” Most of the time this passage of Scripture is read, and I have done so often, with the idea of disappointment in the reading of it, disappointment because there is something about this clay that made it impossible for the potter to make it into the vessel that he first started out to make, so he had to take it off the wheel. Usually in our application we stop right there. Something's wrong with you. God can't do with you what He wants to do. Did you notice that there is not a record that He threw that clay on the trash heap? You go down to any potter's house and you will find a trash heap on which there are broken pieces of pottery, but he didn't throw it on the trash heap. Instead he put it back on the wheel and made it into another vessel as it seemed good to him to make it. It thrills my soul to know that He can put that clay back on the wheel and make it into another vessel–not an inferior one. This we read into it, and I have been guilty of it, and God spoke to my heart about this a couple of years ago. We read into this that the vessel that God made the second time was an inferior vessel. There is nothing in the text that indicates that. “He made it into the vessel that it seemed good to Him to make it into.” Anything that seems good to God is not inferior.

What am I saying to you? Well, let's make it personal. If for whatever reason your life has been somewhat of a tragedy, there is triumph awaiting. If the vessel was marred in the potter's hand, He is able to make into another vessel. If this is not true of your life, will you pass this message on to someone else who needs it? He can make it into another vessel.

You know, something that I have learned from experience–not from the Word, but something from experience from dealing with the lives of people–is that sometimes the tragedy has to come before the triumph is possible. Some people never know any triumph at all because they never know any tragedy.

I'm not suggesting that you go out and disobey the Lord so He can bring tragedy into your life and then out of that tragedy bring triumph. I am not suggesting that. I am just suggesting, Beloved, that we have a great God who is able to bring triumph out of tragedy if you will let Him, and you can let Him if you don't dwell too much in the past. Look toward the future.

Conclusion

Notice what I said: “Let Him.” It is so hard to let Him, isn't it? You see, I believe that the emphasis is placed in chapter 4 of the book of Ruth that God was responsible for what happened between Boaz and Ruth to remind us that we cannot bring the triumph out of tragedy. We try to. God caused Ruth to conceive. God watched over the formation of the body of Obed in the womb of Ruth. It took nine months to do it. There wasn't anything that Naomi could do to hurry it up. She just had to wait. In God's appointed time, she could sing the song of victory with her friends.

Prayer

Father, once again we come to the conclusion of another study of the Word. We ask that You will speak the Word to our hearts, using the analogies we have tried to present to accomplish your purpose in our individual lives. Guard us, our Father, and those we love from tragedy. Keep us sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that disobedience may not come and the discipline may not be necessary; but if the tragedy has already come, lift our spirits and help us to recognize today that there is victory out of defeat, that Thou will even cause the wrath of men to praise Thee. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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