Friendships are so important and so special. I, for one, will always be looking for the Ethel to my Lucy. Who doesn’t want a friendship like theirs?
This Monday, my Bible study focused on Ruth.
If you don’t know the story, there was this woman, Naomi, who moved with her husband and two sons to the city of Moab. Soon, her sons married, one to a woman named Orpah and one to a woman named Ruth. Then, Naomi’s husband died. Then, Naomi’s sons, Orpah and Ruth’s husbands, also died, leaving the three women alone.
Naomi was bitter and angry and sad and felt like God was against her. She told Ruth and Orpah to leave her, go home, and go find new husbands. Orpah listened to Naomi, hugged and kissed her goodbye, cried, and went on her way, but Ruth refused.
You may have heard the famous pledge, “where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, may it be ever so severely, if nothing but death separates you and me.”
Ruth was in it to the end. You could even say she found the Lucy to her Ethel, and she was not giving up.
Our Bible study was on faithfulness in friendship.
“Why is it important to be faithful in friendships?” was a question asked.
No one wants a wishy washy friend. No one likes a flake. You want to know – and need to know – your friend isn’t going to give up on you, or walk out on you, or plain forget about you.
Why open up to a person when you’re not even sure how long they’re going to stick around?
Ruth was that friend who was there to the end. She was the kind of friend who made up after a fight and didn’t hold grudges against you. She was loving and there in the hard times.
I feel like everyone hates on Orpah for leaving, which is unfair. Orpah obeyed her mother-in-law.
Naomi delivered a tough argument. Naomi said that there was no way she was having any more sons for them to marry, and if she miraculously did give birth to another son, were the women going to wait for the baby to grow up? Of course not. So Naomi told them to go home and find new husbands. (Although Hebrew women were more than slaves, they had very few rights, and no inheritance rights. Any position of respect in the community grew out of the male children she bore. The only hope of recovery in social status for a widow was to marry a second time.)
Orpah knew when it was the right time to leave.
Sometimes, we can fight and fight for friendships that are frankly horrible for us. Either the person is all drama, or they put you down, or they’re a bad influence on you.
Orpah was the kind of girl who knew when it was time to walk away.
In Ruth chapter one, Naomi is pretty much all drama, and rightfully so. I mean, the woman lost her husband and two sons at almost the same time and is now alone in the world (except for Ruth, but Naomi is too busy feeling sorry for herself right now to count Ruth as something to be thankful for).
However, Naomi had that gift of being able to voice her emotions.
I know some people who really struggle with this. They will vent to me for hours about being mad or frustrated or confused with someone, but when I tell them to confront that person about their feelings, they clam up.
These three women teach us very important things about friendship.
If we all knew how to love and be committed (especially in marriages), people would be less insecure and down-right happier. We also need to know when to let a poisonous friendship go, and we need to be able to honestly and lovingly communicate with each other on how we really feel.
No one’s perfect though, so which of these do you struggle with the most?
I would struggle with being loving and committed like Ruth, I’ll be honest.
Pray and ask God to help you in whatever area you’re not quite there in, and let’s all be the great friend we want to have in this world.
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