Love Stories . . . In Disguise
She was young and beautiful. Intelligent, charming, unselfish, and good. Her life had already been marked by loss and difficulty. And it was about to get even harder.
Then there was another young woman. We don’t know if she was outwardly beautiful, but she had great inward beauty. She was a lover of truth, loyal, a hard worker. Her life, too, had been marked with loss and difficulty. And it was about to become even more so.
Both women lived hundreds of years ago. We know little of their stories, yet it’s apparent that besides the deep loss and hardships in their lives, they had few choices.
It was this lack of choice on top of their difficult circumstances, that impressed me when I was reminded of their stories a few weeks ago. As an American, I live in a culture that values choice. We expect restaurants and retailers to offer an array of choices. And circumstances in life sometimes limit our life’s path.
These two young women found they had few choices. The first, was an orphan. Her uncle, a good and kind man, gave her a home. Even though her uncle worked near the king’s court, her uncle could not stop the king’s soldiers from taking his niece Esther as part of the many young women rounded up and taken into the palace for a potential new queen. Esther knew whether she became queen or not, she would essentially be a prisoner of an ungodly king.
The other woman lived with her in-laws since she married. But then her father-in-law died. Ten years later, her husband passed away. They were living in Moab, but that was not the homeland of her in-laws. So her mother-in-law decided to move back home. It was decision time for the young widow—return to her family in Moab or travel to an unknown land with her mother-in-law. Neither choice could have been attractive. Her mother-in-law didn’t have the happiest disposition. But Ruth decided to make the trip, accepting the challenges of the unknown.
Hardship was part of life for these two women. It seems they had little choice in their lives and their destiny. But they had one important choice—a choice we all have. The choice of how to respond to our circumstances.
It turns out Esther was chosen to be queen because of her winsome attitude. And Ruth married a wealthy landowner because he was impressed with her deep faith and faithfulness to her mother-in-law.
Even more amazing is that both women, of lowly birth with little influence in their early years, played a key role in the history of the nation of Israel and the heritqge of Christians. At the time they were in difficult situations and a ‘nobody,’ they were still faithful to trust the God of heaven.
Could Esther have known she would become queen, giving her a platform to help save her people, the Jews, from Haman’s evil plot and her peoples’ certain death? Could Ruth have known she would be in the lineage of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world? Neither knew that their stories would be preserved for all time among the Holy Writings.
We never know what God has planned for our lives. What influence our life will have on others and future generations. We never know how God can use our faithfulness and our choices—limited though they may be—to bring glory to Him.
Both these women, Esther and Ruth, were part of God‘s great love story for mankind. Though their lives were marked by tragedy, loss, and pain, God had something greater in mind. Our lives, too, are part of God‘s love story for others. Difficult circumstances, losses, and apparent lack of choices, can be used by God to proclaim the beauty of His love.
February is known for being a month about love. God desires His people to love others. You may be limited by time, finances, ability, or creativity. Ask God to open your eyes to how you can show love to others.
One resource you could use is my new book, The Place of Suffering: comfort and courage for the faith journey, to give to someone who is hurting. Through the month of February, the book is on sale at the introductory price of $6.99 (regular price $7.99). This 40-page, full-color booklet is filled with stories of those who have suffered in various ways and have trusted God through their pain.
For more information (be sure to get in on the drawing!) or to see a preview of the book, go to my website, ForeverWaters.com.