Ruth 2; Psalm 10; Jeremiah 37; Acts 27
In the relative comfort and safety of my home, I can hardly identify with those whose lives are in danger. A novel just read is about a history professor who was snatched from his home and had several days of a Jack Reacher/Jason Bourne experience. His life was in danger on every page. Pure fantasy compared to my non-risky life.
The Old Testament story of Ruth tells of her eventual safety but the story is compelling. The psalmist is more anxious, particularly about evil people who are taking advantage of the poor and helpless. He prays:
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17–18)
The closest I come to these words is in my prayers for those who are victims today. This includes refugees fleeing unjust treatment and are in camps or in hiding, without papers and without a home or homeland. Yet watching them on the news is hardly identifying with their struggles.
Jeremiah is a prophet who didn’t think he had what it takes to be a prophet. God selected him anyway and he obediently took the Word of the Lord to people who didn’t want to hear it and had no intention of obeying it. He warned the king but “neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord that he spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.” (Jeremiah 37:2)
I know what it is like to speak and no one listens, but that is the closest I come in being able to relate to this man. While I love his story, my story bears little resemblance except that I want people to know the Word of God and obey it.
Of all that I read this morning, the scene in Acts is the most remote. Paul has been arrested and at his insistence, is on his way to Rome to speak to Caesar. The ship he is on is a prison ship and a storm hits them hard. After warnings from God through Paul and no one is listening, the ship is wreaked but because God wants Paul in Rome, none of the people on board are lost.
I am not much into boats, sailing, cruises etc. I’ve been on the open sea in Alaska fishing for halibut and on ferries chugging between the mainland and the islands off Vancouver, but never in a storm and never because I was arrested for preaching the Gospel. So what does God say to me through all this?
First, He sets Ruth up so she will marry Boaz and be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. God’s plan for her life is not obvious to her, but she obediently follows the words of her mother-in-law and her destiny is set. God is with her.
Second, had not God touched my life, I might have been one of the ‘wicked’ that the psalmist prays against. I’m not in the ‘helpless’ category either. For escaping both extremes, I am thankful.
Third, even though Jeremiah had a large but unwilling audience, God protected him and kept him alive until the work he was given was done. I also am secure in God’s care and can share His Word without fearing what God-hating people might do to me.
Fourth, God had a plan for Paul and not even a severe storm could thwart that plan. No doubt that the Lord oversees storms, but He is also in charge of safekeeping. The soldiers on the ship wanted to kill the prisoners but were stopped because God wanted Paul in Rome. Whatever happens to me is also in the Lord’s hands. Again, I am assured of His continued care.
APPLY: Never worry about the consequences of obedience. The Lord has a plan for me and He will accomplish it. Rest in that thought today!