She’d lost nearly everything: her father-in-law, her husband, her status as a married woman, her ability to have children (for the foreseeable future), and even her homeland.
She left it all behind. Maybe staying in her homeland and house was too much to bear. Maybe seeing the same people was just too painful. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know the pain of facing those social circles. It’s awkward, hard, and even harder to accept your newfound reality.
This was where Ruth found herself. She’s just come through her darkest night with only her mother-in-law, and the few items she took with her.
Even though Ruth was a widow herself, she chose to serve her recently widowed mother in law. She could have let her fend for herself, but instead, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work gleaning in a field.
We recently served a young woman at Hope and a few days later this patient come back with her friend who found herself in an unplanned and later term pregnancy. This young woman could have told her friend, “Listen, I am in my own mess. Figure out your own pregnancy.” But she didn’t. In fact, she told her friend that she would help her with whatever she could and was already thinking of ways to help her friend.
Joy is hard to discover during a wearisome journey. We all have found ourselves burdened with the unexpected bumps life has thrown at us. You know the bumps: a loss of a job, an unexpected move, the loss of a friend or family member, the unexpected medical diagnosis, the unraveling of a marriage, you name it.
For our patients they’re in the midst of hitting a life bump – no pun intended.
Unexpected bumps don’t have to rob us of joy.
When trials come, we don’t automatically feel joy. But as the shock factor begins to wear off, we can find joy through helping the next person. One of the greatest joy boosters is to volunteer or do something for someone else.
There is ALWAYS someone who will be doing better than you, but there will also ALWAYS be someone worse off than you. Look for that person. Help that person.
I know a widow who decided to start a prayer meeting because she knew there were several women and families who needed prayer. I know another widow who decided to continue to pour into other women in order to help their marriages. They were both hurting, but instead of shutting themselves off, they decided to use their broken pieces to give to others. That is discovering joy in the journey. Your darkest night could lend itself to joy when you look for those broken around you. Like our patient, who brought her friend to Hope.
You don’t have to have all the answers to have joy.
You don’t have to have the perfect marriage to have joy.
You don’t have to have a husband or wife to have joy.
You don’t have to have a college degree to have joy.
You don’t have to have a good paying job to have joy.
You don’t have to have perfect health to have joy.
Joy is found in the journey when we look for others who need help.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25