Devastation doesn’t have to be a dead end. It can be a doorway to a new life. Jeremiah said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Jeremiah said these words to people with shattered dreams. They had been conquered. They had been defeated. They were devastated.
What was left of Israel had been taken to Babylon. They were slaves in a foreign land. In this context, God says, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Even in the midst of sorrow and chaos, God had a plan. He had a plan to give hope and a future to those with shattered dreams. God had a plan, and He was working that plan.
When life is out of control, remember this: God is still in control. After suffering the loss of her Kokomo, Indiana home to a tornado in November 2013, Phyllis Rawlins said, “I’m very strong with my faith, and I know that God is in control of everything, the good and the bad.” Her life was out of control, but God was still in control. The Bible does not promise that life won’t spin out of control, just that God will work the bad things out for good (see Romans 8:28).
God is in control. He is in control when large, life-altering events strike and He is in control of the details of everyday life. He cares about the small stuff too.
While God is “high and lifted up” (see Isaiah 6:1), He also is up close and personal (see Matthew 28:20. He is involved in the day-to-day details of people’s lives. Details like whether a van is riding low enough to go through a tunnel.
Two missionaries risked imprisonment by smuggling 300 Bibles into a nation with a government hostile to any Christian witness. They were able to evade the authorities and safely deliver their cargo. Unfortunately, dropping off the Bibles created a whole new set of problems. Their van had cleared a low tunnel on the way into the country by a matter of inches, only because the weight of the Bibles compressed the suspension. Without the extra weight the van would now be too tall.
They trusted that God would provide for their needs (See Philippians 4:9). They trusted Him on the way into the country, and they trusted Him on the way out.
When the missionaries stopped at a checkpoint, the authorities ordered the pair to transport four very large solders that needed a ride. The weight of the soldiers more than made up for the weight of the bibles, allowing the missionaries’ van to pass through the tunnel. After dropping off their passengers the missionaries drove their van across the border into safety.
Because God is all powerful, He can keep the world spinning in perfect balance and attend to small details like flattening out a suspension of a van that is too tall to pass through a tunnel. He can manage the geo-political affairs of this world, and still have plenty of time to pay attention to a child’s sniffles. He can and He does care about the small stuff of our lives.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray for our daily bread (see Matthew 6:11) He was encouraging them to pray for small stuff—the details of everyday life. God is actively involved in every aspect of our lives.
Something Ruth discovered firsthand.
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Ruth 1:1–5
“In the days when the judges ruled,” was about 1200 B.C, which was the time between Joshua leading the people to conquer the land and when Saul becomes the first king. Another way to view it is it was about half way between Moses and David. It is a cyclical time of…
The people crying out to God.
God raising a deliverer (judge) to rescue the people.
Start over at #1.
The time when the judges ruled was characterized by this verse, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
In short, this was not Israel’s finest hour.
Ruth’s faith stands in stark contrast to the godlessness of the day, and she was not even a Jew. Her faith stands in contrast to the faithlessness of God’s people.
It is a story of faith.
It is a story of loyalty.
It is a story of love.
It is a story of redemption.
It is a story of romance.
It is a story of mystery.
It is a story of God’s activity in everyday life.
It is a story of shattered dreams.
It is a Romans 8:28 story.
It is a Jeremiah 29:11 story.
But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The Commission, January-February, 2001, p. 1