After Naomi describes how she was feeling, verse 22 finishes out chapter 1 by saying,
 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
It just so happened that when they arrived back in town, it was the beginning of the harvest – which is a good time to return if you were looking for food. Also I found it interesting that the commentaries place this event happening in our month of May.
Then in chapter 2, we, the reader, get some important information in verse 1:
“Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
But Ruth did not know who Boaz was, so then when we read what happens next, we have to remember that this was not strategic planning. Some might call it a “coincidence.” Look at verses 2-3:
Ruth 2  And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Now let me quickly explain something. It was part of their custom (kind of their welfare system) that the poor could go to the outskirts of a field during harvest time and walk behind the workers to pick up or glean whatever was dropped or left over for themselves and their families. She was doing what she could. God’s providence was beginning to unfold, but remember that it was coming through her hard work, not her laziness!
 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.
I love that – “and she [just] happened“ to come to Boaz’s field. How many of you know that these kinds of things do not just “happen.”
It had to have been an emotional time for Naomi and a fearful time for Ruth. She was far away from home, in a foreign town, in an enemy culture, and knew no one except her mother-in-law. But she did not let her fear hold her back. She did what she needed to do – she went out to the field to get some food.
I do not know how many times in my life I have stayed up late just wondering, “God – why am I here? What am I doing? What are YOU doing?” Because as hard as it is to understand our past, sometimes our present can be just as hard or harder to understand. It can be fearful and even paralyzing to to begin to try to make sense of all the things that just “happened” to put us today where we are in life.
But Ruth found a way (even in the middle of her tears, doubts, fears, and everything she did not know about where she was) to just work and do what she could.
Remember the Children of Israel? After God delivered them out of slavery in Egypt and they were walking toward a land promised to them that they could not see without any kind of map or sense of direction. So God provided for them a cloud by day and a fire by night so they could see which way to go.
And you know what? I have found in my own life that you can find so much happiness in that moment if you just trust God. As a matter of fact, there have been several key junctures in my life when I just did not know what to do that God reminded me with passages like
Matthew 6  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [That was a rhetorical question – yes you are!]
So what should we do then? Jesus goes on to tell us to just
Matthew 6  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
It is SO freeing to know that God values us, loves us, and has promised to take care of us if we just put our lives into his hands and do what he has told us to do. That is because Happiness is Trusting God not just with your past, but with your present, too.
Happiness is Trusting God with your present.
If we look at our life through the lens of trust in God, then all those things that have “just happened” stop looking like chance and coincidences and start looking like God’s providential working.
Think about our church. there are SO many things that “just happened” for us to even become a church – culminating with it just happened that you decided to come to a church service today. But let me just go ahead and let you know – these things are not coincidences… that is just what God does and, friend, we can trust God with our present and just commit ourselves to obedience. In that, I promise – we are going to find true happiness. Trust will change your whole countenance.
David said in
Psalm 126 [5-6] “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
I love what Chris Hodges (a pastor of a church in Birmingham, AL and author of a book I’m reading right now called Fresh Air) said:
“We can be sure that when something is happening to us, God is doing something in us – something that will shape as for eternity”
How do we get through the troubles of the present with happiness and joy? Well it is really by looking beyond our present with Trust in God. Which leads us to our last point – because unless we are finding happiness through trusting God with our future, our present will not really make much sense.
– – –
Well let’s finish today’s passage:
Ruth 2  And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.”  Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” [because at this point he did not know]
And after it was explained to him who she was…
 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”
What started off as such a fearful step forward into just doing what she could, began to play out as God taking care of her. Then notice Ruth’s response:
 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
Ruth did not know it yet, but Boaz’s promise of God repaying her and giving her a “full reward” was about to come true. But at this point, she was just finding the happiness that comes through God with what was going to happen. That is because
Happiness is Trusting God with our future.
Boaz was a “worthy” man which meant that he was a man of integrity, character, wealth, position, etc. Later in this story, we will find out that Boaz becomes Ruth’s “kinsmen redeemer” and provides for her a whole new life. And looking back now, 3,000 years later, Scholars tell us that Boaz is a type of Jesus Christ himself who stepped in and gave this “foreigner” Ruth comfort, favor, a hope, and a future. Thankfully, Ruth was trusting God with her future, and was later able to receive all those things.
So many people are bound up in fear of what might happen that they never experience any kind of joy in their life. But if you are a follower of Christ today, no matter what happens in the future, we can be joyful knowing He who holds the future in our hands has a wonderful plan for us. And let me go ahead and say no matter what these next 5, 10, 20, 100 years look like for us – our true joy is found in our true future which is in Heaven one day. Now that is hope. That this life is not it.
May we be inspired by what the Apostle Paul said in…
2 Corinthians 4 [16-18] Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is enteral.
In commentary, Chris Hodges, wrote: “Paul never lost heart and neither should we. Why? Because what we see and experience around us is not all there is.
And just like Jesus, Hebrews 12 tells us, we can
 …since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Church – we can live today in joy, by trusting God with what has already happened in our past that he is going to use it for his glory and for our good. We can live in joy today by trusting that what God is doing right now in our present has a purpose and it is part of his plan. And we can live in joy today by trusting that what God has in store for us in our future is going to be SO much better than anything we could ever come up with on our own. Because as Paul reminds us in
Ephesians 3  [God] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
What has life dealt you? How have you responded? Maybe you need to stop worrying about trying to control what you really cannot control and just work on how you are responding to it. Some of you need to discover the true joy and happiness that comes through trusting God with your past (no matter what happened), your present (wherever you are) and your future (whatever happens).
(This is the second half of a message preached by Robert Hampshire on May 21 at Village Church in Churchville, VA.)