Monday, February 25, 2013

Ruth, the Caregiver

I was pondering recently as to whether there are any examples of family caregivers in the Bible.  The name of Ruth in the Old Testament immediately came to mind.  We often associate Ruth along with her mother-in-law, Naomi, as widows.  We remember God's provision for them through His servant, Boaz.  There is much comfort in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament for widows.  There is much in the book of Ruth to which Christian caregivers can relate as well, however.

Ruth's husband died while she was probably a relatively young woman.  We do not know if this death of her husband happened suddenly, or if Ruth's husband was sick for a long time before he died.  We do not know, if Ruth needed to fulfill the role of caregiver for her husband.  We do know for certain, however, that Ruth showed a sweet care-giving spirit with her mother-in-law. 

A number of years before her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her husband, Elimelech, had moved to Moab because of a famine in their land of Israel.  After some time in Moab Elimelech died.  Later both her sons died (one of these sons had been married to Ruth). When Naomi decided to return to Israel Ruth insisted on going with Naomi in spite of Naomi's urgings to not go with her but to return to the comfort of her familiar homeland. 

In a beautiful passage in Ruth 1:16-17 Ruth begged Naomi not to ask her to leave her.  She promised Naomi that Naomi's people and God would be her people and God.  This I believe was a beautiful commitment to God, but it was also a beautiful commitment to Naomi on the part of Ruth.  Ruth was willing to sacrifice everything secure in her life to be Naomi's caregiver and provider.  Even though Naomi was not ill at the time she needed the loving care and support that Ruth would give her.  Later in the book of Ruth we read of how Ruth did all she could to provide for Naomi in spite of Naomi's initial lack of gratitude and warmth.  God provided for them both in wonderful ways through a kinsman-redeemer called Boaz.

You too, dear caregiver, have sacrificed much to be a loving caregiver to your loved one.  You have done this even at times when little appreciation was shown in return for your actions.  You have most likely not been a perfect caregiver.  You may have even been impatient at times.  Yet you have persevered in what you felt God was calling you to do.  You have been willing to forgo your own comfort and security for the love and commitment you have for your loved one.

Dear Christian caregiver, God, our Redeemer, (of whom Boaz was a picture) will bless you and protect you; as He did Ruth.  Your work is so very important, even though it appears overwhelming and hopeless at times.  Trust that God will bless you for your efforts through His presence and care on this earth.  Most importantly, He is laying up treasures for you in heaven!

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