Elimelech took his wife and two sons away from their home in Bethlehem, because there was famine in Israel, during the time of the Judges, because God was dealing with His people for their sin. It was in moving to the "enemy" land of Moab that Elimelech and Naomi held on to new dreams and the hope of surviving the famine unscathed and possibly one day returning to Israel.
But for Naomi, all her dreams, all her hopes, her very future, her life her everything fell apart. First her husband died - which as a woman in those days was not like today where she would get a widow's pension or something. God had made provision for His people to look after the widows and orphans, but we don't know what provision Naomi would have received as a single mother with two sons as foreigners... As the enemy... Of Moab.
Her sons, when they were of age, married Moabite women. As a Jewish mother, this would have been challenging for Naomi. A Jewish momma only wants the best for her boys. A nice Jewish wife to bring Jewish Grandchildren for the family heritage to not die out. Oh vey! Moabite daughters-in-law!
Although we don't know how long each of Naomi's sons were married before they died..... It is interesting to note Ruth 1:4: "The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about 10 years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died."
Can it be deduced that Ruth and Orpah had problems conceiving???
When her husband died, did Ruth, as a woman of child-bearing age realise her dreams of having a family were broken and over? Did she grieve not just the death of her husband, but the hope of her future family? Had they been trying? Had there been problems in conceiving? Had she suffered the shame of infertility before she suffered the burden of widowhood?
When Naomi returned to her home in Bethlehem, she had lost everything. She'd lost her husband, her sons, her hope for grandchildren, her hope as a Jewish mother. Broken. Beside her was Ruth, her daughter-in-law, who'd left behind her Moabite family, had lost her husband, had lost the hope she had as a mother. Broken.
Broken dreams. Broken lives. Hopelessness.
Sums up some of the feelings of the infertility journey.
And yet we know God turns everything around for both Ruth and Naomi, restoring them as mothers. Restoring them as women. Restoring the future and healing their past.
New dreams. New lives. Restored hope for a new future.
This is our God.
This is part of the story of Ruth.