Archive for October, 2006

Grief and Loss in the Book of Ruth

The opening words to the Book of Ruth talk about a famine in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread” – it would seem that God’s provision was not present in that place at this time) and how a man from there Elimelech (whose name means “My God is King”) takes his wife Naomi and 2 sons Chilion and Mahlon to live in the land of Moab.

Here is great loss and grief already present. Elimelech must no longer have faith in his God as King…ruler and provider for his life. Did he feel God had let him down? He had no bread for his family so he chooses to go to the Land of Moab. But why would he choose Moab and not Egypt or some other land? The choice of Moab is a choice against God for an Israelite. The story of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19 tells of the incestuous origin of the Moabite people. The Moabite people were cut off from the Lord God (Deuteronomy 23: 3 – no Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the Assembly of the Lord) The Lord God was angry at the Israelite people for having “sexual relations with the women of Moab” (Number 25: 1) in their journey to the promised land. It would seem that the Moab would be the last place that an Israelite would want to go and still be in relationship with God. Yet Elimelech chooses to take his family there, away from the “promised house of bread.”

Have you ever been disappointed with God? Let down? Does God ever seem silent to your pain? It is tempting in this post-modern age of pluralism to give God the heave-ho and move onto one of the many other religious groups and try out their gods.  So many religions: which one is truth?  Jesus said, “I am the Way; the truth and the life…no-one comes to the Father but by me.”  I think he meant that in him we can find truth about our religious questions.  Peoples all over the world seek to worship a god.  If God, the Creator of the Universe does seek to live in a close relationship with all the created order, then it would make sense that God would place within human hearts the desire to find their God. Many religions around the world do reflect the nature of God.  Why would God not reveal Godself to the Australian aborigines, the Indians, the people of Africa or the Pacific Islands?  Jesus came to show us the nature of God.  In him we see the true God…that is why we can only find the Father by running it past what Jesus said and did.

So if your god demands you to do certain things like sacrifice, pay for your paryers to be answered etc, then that is not the true God.  We can all feel let down when our prayers are not answered, but be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water when you are thinking that maybe God isn’t there after all, or cannot be trusted to meet your need.

Loss takes something away from life…Elimelech felt a loss in his hunger and desire to care for his family.  Loss always creates change, but they are not the same things.

Change adds something to life.  Loss is a black hole: change is a quantum leap into a new galaxy.  We can never avoid loss, but we can choose the change it brings.



Hi, I am Reverend Sue Ellis of the West Lakes United Church. Follow my writings on this blog to see my thoughts about Sunday sermons and also leading worship in an aged care facility.

I hope you find it useful and stimulating.




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