Ruth- Refugee Set Free

Day 1 of 6 • This day’s reading


This devotional was written by Bob, missionary in Knoxville


Throughout history, people have felt compelled to move from places of danger, strife and oppression to places of safety, stability and freedom. Modern times are no exception. People—families—are on the move today, fleeing their homelands to escape civil war, terrorism or natural disaster. In the best scenarios, they settle in countries that are safe, but where they often feel like unwelcome foreigners: the culture, the language and the community all feel strange, incomprehensible and possibly hostile.  

The book of Ruth tells the story of a refugee woman and her refugee mother-in-law Naomi. Their story goes from bad to worse. Beginning with a food shortage, ironically in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” a series of disastrous events sets Ruth and Naomi on a journey to find provision for their most basic needs; a place to call “home” seems like an impossible dream. At their lowest point, they end up as poor homeless widows with few options: a common tragic experience for refugees even today.

From a human perspective, it is easy to assume that people who become refugees have made some really bad choices that have led to such dire circumstances. However, the choices made by Naomi’s family were not the cause of their problems. Refugees are usually victims of horrible situations they have no control over: natural disasters, war, famine, etc. They are people who profoundly experience the effects of sin in this world.  

We see in Psalm 146 that human powers are not in control of this world. In fact, they tend to be part of the problem! In contrast, God is powerfully in control. He sees the refugee, the widow, the foreigner: all victims of the fallenness of this world. He sees with compassion and has a plan to rescue His own.  

Ruth and Naomi are not the only migrants mentioned in the Bible. Abraham, Jacob, Moses and many saints of old wandered the earth looking for “a better country” (Hebrews 11:16). These stories illustrate that we were made for another world; a perfect home not marred by sin and corruption. In this sense, we are all refugees, like Ruth and Naomi, seeking a better homeland. As we will see in the story of Ruth, God is at work to bring His people home.