But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever 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. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me" (Ruth 1:16-17).
These words were spoken by Ruth, the great grandmother of king David (Matthew 1:5-6). What a great lady she was. I wonder about the influence she may have had on David and him becoming “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
Today these words are often used in weddings as part of the vows that grooms and bride make to each other. This is fitting because it shows the commitment that those who are truly in love should have for one another. It speaks of a beautiful dedication that one person has to love another unconditionally.
However, it is important to realize the context of these words. Earlier, Naomi and her husband had left Bethlehem in Judah and went to the land of Moab because of a great famine (Ruth 1:1). While there her 2 sons each marry women of Moab. One of these women was Ruth (Ruth 1:2-4). Ruth had recently lost her own husband who had died (Ruth 1:5). Her mother-in-law Naomi had lost not only her own husband, but both of her sons. The circumstances of life had greatly burdened Noami and she was severely depressed. She felt like “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13). After she returns with Ruth to her homeland, Naomi tells her people, “Do not call me Noami (i.e. meaning “Pleasant”); call me Mara (i.e. meaning “Bitter”), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). To say the least, Naomi was very depressed about all that had happened to her. Her heart was broken.
When Ruth says the opening words above, she is not speaking to someone who is positive, encouraging, and fun to be around. She is speaking to someone who is downtrodden, bitter, and discouraging. I believe we can all understand Naomi’s feeling this way. This isn’t meant to condemn Naomi for feeling this way. I can certainly understand and empathize with her feelings. The point is: Ruth was choosing to love someone who wasn’t exactly the easiest person to love at that moment. Loving those who struggle with depression isn’t always easy, but it is what they need the most. They need to be loved for who they are. They need to know how much God loves them. Ruth is a great and powerful example of choosing to love someone who is fighting with severe depression.
Who do you know in your life who is battling with depression? Follow Ruth’s example and show this kind of love and commitment to them. Perhaps, you yourself are battling with depression or you are brokenhearted; May those around you show you this kind of love. Most of all, remember this is the kind of commitment God has for us in His love for us. Today, I will strive to love others with the kind of love and commitment Ruth showed Naomi and rejoice that nothing, even if I am struggling with being broken-hearted, can separate me from the love God has for me!
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)