May 16, 2024

How God Works Through People and Places

To read the story of Ruth as a romantic love story is to miss the full picture of God’s faithfulness in horrific circumstances.

It is about love — but the covenantal, sacrificial kind of Ruth to Naomi and God to His people. In the second part of their conversation about Ruth, Whit and Casey explore how God works through people and places to form us.

Check Out the Episode:

The story of Ruth begins with a famine in the land. In many ways, the struggles faced by Ruth and her family echoes past challenges in biblical history. We’re reminded of similar struggles encountered by people like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, where famines tested faith and resilience. Deuteronomy 28 paints a vivid picture of the consequences of unfaithfulness among God’s people, a backdrop for the book of Ruth.

The Bible comes alive in a whole new way when we can understand the cultural context and read into the details and drama of a story.

You don’t have to be a Bible scholar. But taking some time to do some research can help us see the full picture of Scripture and how God’s faithfulness to deliver His people, even when they’re unfaithful to Him, is seen through the whole story.

God Puts You in a Place and a Community

In the narrative of God’s people, we often encounter moments where they are placed in a specific land or situation by God Himself. Instead of immediately turning to God when faced with challenges, they often try to fix things on their own. This pattern holds a profound lesson for us: the importance of repentance and returning to the Lord when we’ve been unfaithful to Him.

God’s placement of His people in a particular place was never arbitrary. It was part of His divine plan to work in and through them in that specific context.

When Elimelech decides to leave the land he was placed in (albeit for good reason), his family suffers, leaving Ruth and Naomi to pick up the pieces of his disobedience.

The Community of the Church

It’s not just about the geographical space but about the shared life and values of a community brought together by God—today, that’s the Church.

When people think of a church, they often reduce it to a stage from which Bible content is blasted. But that’s not what the church is first and foremast called to be. The Church is a group of people following Jesus together. Knowing and being known by others within community is instrumental in our spiritual growth.

Every time we gather as a church, our primary intention should be to place Jesus at the center. As we become known and know others, we’re shaped and formed.

Leaving a Place

In the narrative of Ruth, we encounter a compelling reason for leaving—a famine. Life and death hang in the balance, and Elimelech’s decision to relocate can be viewed as a move driven by necessity, a choice made for survival.

The urge to leave a place can stem from various motivations. Sometimes, it’s about seizing new opportunities, pursuing a career path, or seeking financial stability. These are valid considerations that often factor into our decisions about where we live and work.

But when we uproot ourselves from places where God has planted us, whether physically or metaphorically, there can be a price to pay. This isn’t to say that change or relocation is never warranted. There are times when circumstances demand a shift, and God may indeed be calling us to somewhere new.

Pursuing the Community God Has for You

It’s crucial to recognize that when God calls us to a different place, He’s also calling us to a people—a community of believers with whom we are meant to journey, serve, and grow. It requires relentless pursuit and discernment to find that right place and community where we can align with God’s purpose for our lives.

Ruth’s love for Naomi is a love that says, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16), embodying a covenantal bond that goes beyond personal interests. This love is not just about Ruth’s feelings for Naomi; it’s a commitment to stand by her side through thick and thin, in times of abundance and scarcity. This is the kind of community God wants for us, the kind of community in which we can truly thrive.

God’s faithfulness to His people shines brightly in the midst of Israel’s unfaithfulness.


Despite the challenges and hardships faced by Naomi and Ruth—a famine, loss of loved ones, and societal struggles—God’s redemptive plan unfolds through their unwavering commitment and loyalty.

There is transforming power when someone is deeply committed to our good. It accesses something in us we can’t access on our own. That’s why God cares so much about place and community.

Even when we feel like we’ve messed things up or left a place we weren’t meant to leave, there is always a road back to God through repentance.

Where has God placed you? He is always moving toward us, inviting us into deeper community and transformative love.


Show Notes:

Listen to Part 1 of this Tell Me More Podcast

Check out the Message: An Introduction to the Book of Ruth

In this episode, Whit recommends as a Bible study tool.

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