Tragedy keeps a sloppy appointment book. There is no way to avoid it, and it is never welcome. But when difficult things happen to us, do we consider ourselves first or the needs of others? In the book of Ruth, we find three women facing extreme heartbreak.
When Naomi had first been forced to leave her country due to famine, she was comforted that her husband and sons would care for her (vv. 1–2). Because her sons were married, she probably looked forward to being a grandmother (v. 3). But then anguish showed its nasty head. First, Naomi’s husband died (v. 3). Then, the two younger women, Ruth and Orpah lost their husbands: “Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (v. 5).
As the famine ended, Naomi decided to return to Judah and encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their own mothers. But rather than agreeing to what was best for them, both women insisted on staying with their mother-in-law (v. 10). After further discussion, Orpah begrudgingly left Naomi (v. 14), but still Ruth remained (vv. 16–18). She said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay” (v. 16).
Ruth showed great empathy in putting Naomi’s needs above her own. In the same way, godly leaders value others and focus on understanding situations from another’s perspective. They take a sincere interest in the care and well-being of others and step in however needed. Ruth displayed empathetic leadership as she saw Naomi’s struggle and determined to help no matter the cost. She understood the needs of those around her and, by doing what she could to help, stepped into the bigger plan God had for her life.
>> When you see others going through tough times, what do you consider first: your own needs or the needs of others? Ask yourself, “How would being in this person’s position make me feel?” Then ask how you can help.
Sometimes we don’t help because we don’t see a need. Father, open our eyes to see the needs around us and make us sensitive to Your prompting. Give us gentle, truthful words to speak and wisdom in offering practical aid.