In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. —Ruth 1:1-2
…there was a famine…they went to Moab and lived there.
A crisis can cause us to do things we thought we would never do. I am sure this is what happened to Elimelek and his family. They lived in a country that was experiencing economic uncertainty along with political turmoil, social unrest, and spiritual apathy. Every person was doing what was right in their own eyes because there was no moral compass or common ground guiding society.
Elimelek believed in God, and by all accounts, he appears to be a decent man doing his best to take care of his family. His name meant “God is my king” but the famine caused him to feel God was no where near. That’s exactly what a crisis will do. It will cause us to doubt what we held to be true when there was no crisis. Elimelek could trust God when there was no problem, but the famine revealed his trust was only as strong as the comforts God provided.
On a clear day standing on the hills in Bethlehem, Elimelek could see the green pastures of Moab. Moab was to Israel what Nazi Germany was to America during World War II. You could not find two more opposite people groups with opposing values. The Moabite culture was so morally bankrupt that even Hollywood would blush…or vomit. Yet, Elimelek was willing to move and raise his young family there. Why? Because a crisis can make “wrong” look “okay.” I can hear Elimelek’s reasoning, “Yes, the values of that place are horrible, but I can get a job there and we can have food to eat.”
Elimelek had been raised to follow and trust God. Up until this point he has, but the fear and uncertainty of his crisis, caused him to compromise his convictions. When he moved to Moab he was intentionally ignoring what had always guided him. The tone of the verses indicate that he never intended to stay in Moab. He was just going there until things got better in Bethlehem. It was intended to be a temporary fix.
When we encounter a crisis, we have three options:
We are in a crisis. In fact, we have more than one crisis in our country. The COVID pandemic…bad politics…social unrest…spiritual apathy…I could go on. What has been your response? A recently released survey revealed that 1 in 3 Christians (33%) have quit attending in person and online worship services since March of this year. In the midst of crisis, one-third of Christians have quit worshipping God with others. It appears many are following Elimelek. In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, I plead with you to trust the Lord. If that is a struggle, read this.
Don’t look for green pastures somewhere else. Embrace our new world and trust it is part of God’s good plan for you. I know this is not easy, but discomfort is an opportunity to trust God. Keep trusting!
Here is a song that encourages me. I hope it does the same for you: Amadeo (Still My God) by Ryan Stevenson
Share this with a friend if it has encouraged you.