Are you in a difficult season experiencing discouragement, doubt, and despair? Are you weary of just trying to survive? What if I told you there was a way to thrive even in the midst of difficult seasons?
Welcome to Mindful Monday and our continuing series for this month: SURVIVING SEASONAL LIFE CHANGES.
Today we want to move past surviving to thriving. In last week’s post we discussed the 3 C’s of SURVIVING SEASONAL CHANGES:
If you missed reading that post, you can do so by clicking HERE.
I think so many time we settle for surviving when God wants us to thrive…even in difficult seasons. We were made for so much more, and sometimes we forget this during unexpected and unwelcome life changes. We are so anxious to get to the other side that we often miss the opportunities and even blessings in the period of transition.
Instead of telling you how to thrive, I would like to show you how you by looking at the life of one my favorite women from the Bible: Ruth. I have shared parts of her story before, but the best way for you to get a full picture of her life and story is to open your Bible and read the book of Ruth. It is a very short read (only 4 chapters) nestled in between Judges and Samuel in the Old Testament.
However, if you do not have your Bible available or do not have the time to sit and read right now, I encourage you to watch this short video made by the Bible Project on the book of Ruth.
Here are four key (among so many!) lessons we can learn from the life of Ruth. Her story teaches us how to thrive and not just survive during difficult seasons. Today we will address the first two lessons and on Faithful Friday we will explore the last two.
- STEP OUT
- SHOW UP
- SEEK HELP
- STICK AROUND
In chapter 1, Ruth remains loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi after the death of her husband. Naomi decides to return to her home in Bethlehem alone, however, Ruth insists on staying with her and adopting Naomi’s God as her own. It is important to remember that Ruth was a Moabite so to go with Naomi meant leaving her home, her family, her culture, her religion…basically her entire way of life. Talk about serious seasonal life changes!
To say that Ruth was stepping out in faith is an understatement. Read her powerful words to Naomi when she decides to follow her:
“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 1Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” ~Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)
The easiest and most natural thing to do when facing a season of discouragement and doubt is to pull inward. You want to hide, isolate, and protect yourself. You want to stay where you feel comfortable and safe. But the only way to thrive during this time of transition is to STEP OUT. Step out in faith, step out with courage, step out and trust God to lead the way.
Ruth did not know what was waiting for her when she arrived in a totally foreign land with her widowed mother-in-law. She could have been rejected and shunned as an outsider, but she trusted in the God of Naomi and chose to follow and step out in faith instead.
When Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem they are emotionally, physically, and financially despondent, having no money and no men to take care of them. In Chapter 2 we see Ruth gleaning in the fields to gather whatever grain she could. She ends up in a field of a well-known rich landowner named Boaz. Boaz notices Ruth and asks his workers to be kind to her and leave plenty of grain for her and her mother-in-law. He did not know at the time who Ruth was, but he chose to care for the new stranger in their land.
Imagine arriving in a new place with no family (except a broken and bitter mother-in-law), no friends, and no food. You might wonder to yourself: Why did I ever step out in faith to end up here? But Ruth does not ask herself that question nor does she feel sorry for herself or run away. She does the opposite and SHOWS UP. She does what she needs to do to provide the basic necessities of living not only for herself but her mother-in-law.
Ruth demonstrates courage and character amidst a time of personal drought and devastation. And someone notices. A very important someone named Boaz. Read what he says to Ruth when he finds out who she is and what she is doing:
“ ‘But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.’” ~Ruth 2:11-12 (NLT)
It is hard to show up and be present during difficult seasons of your life. You often feel hopeless and alone wondering if anyone notices or understands. You wonder if it is even worth it. Do not believe that lie. God sees you and cares about every single detail of your life. He knows when you are hurting, knows exactly what you needs, and, most importantly, knows how to provide it.
What do you have to do when you struggling with a life transition that brings worry, doubt, and anxiety? One that may threaten to change your life completely?
Pull yourself together? No.
Rely on your own strength? No.
Pretend that everything is okay? No.
Step out and show up? Yes.
These are the first crucial steps to thriving during a difficult a season.
And simply all God requires of you. The rest is in His hands.
You really don’t think it was a coincidence that Ruth ended up gathering grain in the field of Boaz, do you? If you have not yet read the end of the story, you may not know what I am referring to, but you will find out on Faithful Friday!
Meet me back here AT THE CROSSROADS where we will finish the story of Ruth and unpack the final two lessons:
SEEK HELP and STICK AROUND.
I encourage you to use the middle of this week to dig deeper into Ruth and listen to the truth God may want to reveal to you through her life and story.