6. When you have faced a painful experience, how has it affected your attitude toward God?
7. The famine is over, and Naomi prepares to return to Bethlehem with her daughters-in-law. Why does Naomi encourage Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab (vv. 8—14)?
8. What cost does Naomi face by encouraging Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab?
How do both Ruth and Orpah show faithfulness to Naomi by their different responses?
9. What does it cost you to be faithful to those you love?
10. Read Ruth’s familiar words in verses 16—17. How would you summarize her words of dedication?
11. Naomi’s homecoming is painful (vv. 19—22). How does Naomi view herself and her situation?
12. What provisions has God made for Naomi even in the midst of this bitter time?
13. In what situations is it most important for us to be there for our loved ones and friends?
How does Ruth’s example encourage you to be faithful in good times and in bad?
Pray about It
Our Father, teach us to recognize and understand friendship. Teach us how to receive friendship. Teach us how to be a friend. Like Naomi, give us the capacity to know, show, and speak our feelings—love, anger, longing, bitterness, despair, and devotion. Like Orpah, give us the ability to separate from those we love if it is required of us. Like Ruth, who reflects your character, give us the courage to be faithful; to give support, love, and commitment; and to cling to those you call into our lives. May we show kindness especially to those who feel judged and rejected. Father, teach us friendship. Teach us faithfulness.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition, faithfulness is the act of “adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, a cause, or an idea.” Synonyms are loyal, true, constant, fast, steadfast, staunch. Faithfulness suggests undeviating attachment. Close your eyes, sit quietly, and imagine yourself in a conversation with God about faithfulness. If you have any questions, ask them. Afterward, record this conversation. Spend a few moments in reflection.
List times when you have been angry with God or felt deserted by him, even judged by him. Now list ways in which God has been faithful to you. List ways you have been faithful to God. When and how did you make your first commitment to God?
Ruth’s commitment to Naomi seems extreme, yet this type of commitment is often made in marriage and many times in friendships. Make a list of those who are dear to you. In times when you felt empty, how have they been faithful to you? What kindnesses have they shown you? In times when you rejoiced, who has been with you to share your celebration? In what ways have you shown faithfulness and loyalty to your friends?