Ruth 1:1-18 and Mark 2:1-12
If there is one word to describe my relationship with my best friend, it is not “speechless.” We can talk for hours about everything and nothing at all. But on this day it would all be different. I answered my phone to hear her say. “ I came home from work and found Bobby ( her husband) dead.” At that moment, my heart sunk, and I was “speechless.” Are there ever any right words, for moments like that?
Ruth must have known the helplessness of trying to find words of comfort for her broken-hearted mother-in-law, Naomi. When a famine had hit Judah, Elimelech had taken his wife, Naomi and their sons Mahlon and Chilion to the country of Moab. In a few short years, Noami lost her husband, and then her two sons died. Like emotional dominoes, the crushing loss of her family was devastating to Naomi. She found herself in a strange land with no family except her young daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah.
Naomi decides to return to Judah and releases her daughters-in-law from any responsibility for her and asks they return to their families, where they can marry again.
It is here we see Ruth reveal her character and compassion as she speaks gently to her mother-in-law Naomi. “ Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Through the life of Ruth, God reveals to us how to “Come Alongside,” the broken-hearted.
Ruth was not content to say, “Well, give me a call if I can do anything.”, and step away. We see Ruth’s determination to stay with Naomi was selfless and courageous. To follow Naomi meant Ruth leaving her country, family and turning from her worship of false gods, to embrace belief in the true and living God. But no matter the cost, Ruth purposed to put Naomi first.
Choosing to “Come Alongside” the brokenhearted, means we must think of them first. What can you do to encourage the fragmented people when a family breaks apart? How can you help the widow who just lost the love of her life? How do you come alongside a dear friend fights cancer? And what are the things you can do to lighten their load?
In Ruth chapter one, verse fourteen, we see, “but Ruth clave unto her.” We no longer use the word “clave” in our everyday language. Today we might say Ruth was clinging to or holding fast to Naomi. Ruth would not allow Naomi to face this alone.
Choosing to “Come Alongside” the brokenhearted requires your sacrificially joining in a person’s life. It takes time and effort. It may involve preparing a meal, sending a card, making regular phone calls and personal visits. One group, I knew sent a card to my friend and in it reminded her of the thousands of promises of God found in the Bible. On colorful notecards, each person, in the group, had written out their favorite promise of God with reference and then spent time praying over the notecard for my friend, that God would encourage her heart. The note within the card asked my friend to place the notecards on her mirror, on the refrigerator door or by her bedside. She would readily see and remember God’s promises and the friends who were praying for her. In the envelope were blank notecards, so she could begin searching scripture for the promise, that comforted her heart. A simple gesture, but it spoke volumes to my friend’s heart. As she began reading those promises and digging into the Bible to find more promises God began to heal her spirit. You could see her move from the “why?” as she trusted the “Who.”
In Ruth chapter one verse twenty-one, we see Naomi return home and say, “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” Naomi, whose name means pleasant, asked people to begin calling her Mara, saying bitter or sorrowful. Ruth was willing to walk alongside the widow and share the weight of her heavy heart and total helplessness. Ruth began gleaning in the fields so she could bring home the scraps of grain, for Naomi and her to survive. It was a humbling and challenging job, but Ruth was willing to do what was needed to help Naomi.
Choosing to “Come Alongside” the brokenhearted means you need to share the weight of their burden. In Mark chapter two, verses one through twelve, we find men whose friend is “Sick of the palsy.” This disease affects the brain and spinal cord and results in an extreme loss of the power of motion. These men saw their friend struggling with his illness, and they could not ignore his pain. They literally shared the weight of his burden and began carrying him and his bed to Jesus. When they got to the house, they found it surrounded by crowds of people wanting to see and hear Jesus. The man’s friends could have given up, but instead, they carried him onto the roof and began to make a hole, so they could use ropes to lower him down to Jesus. What better gift than to come alongside a brokenhearted friend and bring them to the great physician. The only One who can truly heal the brokenhearted.
In learning about “coming alongside” the brokenhearted, let’s dig deeper into God’s Word to find the highest truth of all. In John 14:15 Jesus says, “ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;” Jesus is trying to explain to his disciples that He will be leaving soon. Although he has revealed to them many times that he must die, they are fearful and confused, by His words. Then Jesus gives them, and us, a wonderful promise. When we get saved the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us. Notice the word Comforter. In the Greek language this is the word paraklētos, One who comes alongside, a comforter, a counselor and helper. Galatians 6:2 commands Christians to” Bear ye one another burdens…”. The examples of Ruth and the men with the friend that has “palsy,” teaches us to handle gently the brokenhearted. But the most important lesson is the promise that our parakletos the Holy Spirit always has the right words to say. He steps into our brokenness and knows just what to do. And in our darkest days, his presence overwhelms any doubt or fears. He comes alongside us and brings comfort like no other.