Ruth 1:1 - I never noticed before that Naomi's family was from Bethlehem.
Ruth 1:13-14 - Naomi's grief is great, saying that "the hand of the Lord has gone out against me." and she urges her daughter's in law to go back home and start over. Her world has fallen apart, long from home and having lost her husband an sons. Her argument sounds fine - go back and start over, you are young and I have nothing left to give - and Orpah relents and returns home.
Ruth 1:15-18 - But Ruth isn't having any of it. Though Naomi is likely right, the odds are more in her favor if she returns home, she refuses to abandon Naomi in her grief. I have to believe that although Naomi knew it was right to urge them to go, she is relieved to have Ruth stay and not be alone. What could motivate Ruth to stay with Naomi and return to Judah with her? There isn't really anything of benefit for Ruth in going, the only reason i can see is that Ruth refused to abandon Naomi in her vulnerable state. She knew that Naomi needed her and she wouldn't leave her alone.
Ruth 1:21 - After 10 years, she returns to Bethlehem and is recognized, yet she is not the same. Naomi means 'pleasant' and based on the loyalty of her daughters in law, she seems to have lived up to that name. But she may have left 'pleasant', but she's returned 'bitter' and asks to be called such (Mara). She says that she has come back empty, but she forgets the blessing that is Ruth, who remained y her side.
Isn't that how we act? trouble comes and we think all is lost, there is nothing left. Yet God is still with us, Jesus is still interceding and if we payed attention,we'd see many more blessings around us.
Another thing to consider is Ruth. She's just made a long journey with a self described bitter woman. A bitter woman is no fun to be around, yet Ruth commits herself and remains true. Upon arriving, Naomi essentially dismisses Ruth's loyalty saying that she has returned empty.
Yet Ruth remains.
It occurs to me that we are Naomi and Ruth is Jesus. We complain about our circumstances and lament our fate, ignoring Jesus' faithfulness. Yet Jesus remains, supporting us, encouraging us,steadfast beside us, waiting for us to notice Him there.