“Wherever you go, I will go…” (Ruth 1:16) These words from Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi, encapsulate the bond between two women from divergent families and backgrounds.
The marriage of Ruth to Naomi’s son first brought them together. When tragedy befell both women they found strength in each other’s love and friendship. Perhaps the fact that they both understood the particular grief of being widowed solidified the relationship. Whatever the reason, Ruth remained steadfast in her commitment to her mother-in-law despite Naomi’s entreaties for her to return home to the security of her own people. Naomi, in turn, helped Ruth find a husband and begin a new life and family. Together the women weathered storms of grief, poverty, and desperation, and reached the happiest of endings. It is a profound story of friendship, dedication, and, most of all, loyalty.
All relationships depend upon loyalty for success. Fidelity in marriage. Trustworthiness in friendship. Reliability among coworkers. As a part of our faith, we believe in God’s unwavering love and commitment to the covenant, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7). The last words in the Gospel of Matthew promise loyalty from Jesus to his disciples and, by extension, to each of us: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). How, then, do we cultivate loyalty in our relationships with each other and our God? Ruth provides a simple and yet profound answer. We stick around. We endure the bad times and celebrate the good ones. And, most of all, we draw strength from knowing that we can weather any storm because God will always remain faithful to his promises.
The Book of Ruth is one of the shortest and most interesting stories in the Bible. Read it on your own or with others. Reflect upon the loved ones in your life whose loyalty has strengthened and supported you.