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Loss, Loyalty, & Lament


I've never been one to read romance novels, but lately I've been reading one. It's been a good one, too. Believe it or not, it's a book I found in the Bible—the Book of Ruth. Ruth may be the original romance novel, and the great thing about it is, it's just as appealing to men as it is to women. The other great thing about the Book of Ruth is that it's true. It happened at a real time and in a real place.

The setting of Ruth is the Promised Land during the period of the judges. It was a time when, as Scripture says, "every man did what was right in his own eyes." The result of such rebellion was utter chaos. The story of Ruth serves as a ray of light in a sea of darkness. It gives us a snapshot of an ordinary life that radiates with hope, because we see God at work not in necessarily supernatural, miraculous, out-of-the-box ways, but in the course of common life, in the midst of ordinary people.

I want us to look at the dramatic opening of this great book. The beginning of this story grabs you and won't let go. From the very beginning, the main characters are plunged into tragedy and loss of unusual proportion.

A man named Elimelech dies, leaving his wife, Naomi, a single mother in a foreign land. As a widow, she has no way of providing for herself. She can only wait until her two sons grow up and can help take care of her. We don't know how much time passed, but eventually her two sons took for themselves Moabite wives—Ruth and Orpah. But then, as if one tragedy were not enough, Naomi's two sons died.

I can't imagine the devastation of losing one child, much less two. Beside the deep emotional toll this must have taken on her, there was a practical side to this as well. Naomi was now totally helpless. ...

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Mark Mitchell is the lead pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.

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Sermon Outline:


This story of Ruth serves as a ray of light in a sea of darkness, giving us a snapshot of God at work in an ordinary life.

I. We have important choices to make in the wake of great loss.

II. Our joy can be restored through loyal commitment to each other.

III. Our joy can be restored by honestly lamenting our pain.


In the midst of our losses, it is an act of faith to believe God is still at work and his ultimate aim is to bless us.