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Dealing With Life’s Issues

Ruth 1 • March 27, 2024 • g1289

Pastor Chris Plaza teaches a message through Ruth 1 titled “Dealing With Life’s Issues.”

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Pastor Chris Plaza

March 27, 2024

Sermon Scripture Reference

On August 26, 2020, I will tell you, and I’ll just put it bluntly, that I had one of the worst days of my life. It wasn’t particularly one thing that made it that way, it was really a combination of things, a combination of issues that just piled up. On top of that, if you remember that time, August 2020, something was going on then. Anybody remember? Covid, right? So you can add that issue onto that. It really just was a day for me where everything just seemed to be going wrong, everything was going wrong.

Here’s where I must confess to you, I did not handle that day well. I didn’t. I was very bitter. I was very upset at the issues that were going on at the time, and I even felt like leaving. I felt like bolting. There was just a lot that was going on. But, thank the Lord that He didn’t allow me to do that. He didn’t leave me there. No, instead God graciously and lovingly came to my rescue, and He helped me with the issues that I was having. I’ll tell you how He did that. Believe it or not, He did it through His Word. It was through, in fact, an Old Testament story that I actually here tonight would like to share with you because perhaps you know exactly the way that I was feeling, perhaps you’ve even come tonight and the issues of life—problems, things that go wrong—maybe have gotten to you, and maybe like me you became a little bitter and even felt like bolting, taking off, and leaving.

I’d like to share with you how God helped me and exactly how God wants His people to deal with the issues of life, so would you join me then in turning in your Bible to the Old Testament book of Ruth. Ruth 1 is where we’re going to be tonight in our study. If you are a note taker, the title of my message will be on the screen for you is “Dealing With Life’s Issues.”

As you’re turning to Ruth 1, I want to give you some brief background on the book. I know we’re jumping into it. It really is a marvelous book, very short but just beautiful. If you’ve read through the Old Testament, you know that the book of Ruth is really a breath of fresh air because of where it lies. It lies in between the book of Judges and the book of 1 Samuel. It’s not exactly the greatest of times in Israel’s history, but it shines really as a bright spot. As the book of Ruth tells the story of a Moabite outsider, Ruth, who not only came to faith in the true God of Israel, but also got to be a part of the line, the lineage, of King David. She became his great grandmother. An even greater honor for Ruth actually is she became part of the lineage of Jesus, the Messiah, and that happens of course by way of her marriage to a man named Boaz (all the women in here know this story, no doubt). He becomes her Goel, that’s Hebrew for redeemer. He becomes her kinsman redeemer. Redemption, so you know, is one of the main themes of the book. It’s littered through it.

Another main theme, and one that we’ll actually see and discuss tonight, is the providence of God which teaches that God is completely sovereign and He directs all things, even the issues of life. It’s truly one of the most beautiful and comforting doctrines in my opinion of all Scripture, but before you get there, before Ruth even meets her kinsman redeemer, some big-time issues are going to take place. It’s not just going to be in her life, it’s also going to be in the life of her family—issues that you are I are going to get a good look at here tonight.

We’re going to cover all of chapter 1, but I want to divide our text into three scenes, that’s how the passage is going to unfold for us. I want you to find your place Ruth 1:1, and we’ll take a look at scene 1 which I have titled “Problems.” Follow along with me in your Bible. It says, “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.”

Verse 3, “Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years.” One more verse, let’s look at verse 5. It says, “Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman,”—that’s Naomi—“survived her two sons and her husband.”

The setting for the book of Ruth takes place during the time period again of the Judges. Now, as I mentioned, that was not one of the highlights in Israel’s history. It actually was a time much like ours. The book of Judges says that everyone did what was right in their own eyes, much like the time period that we live in today here in America or society, our culture. But it was a time period of political, moral, and spiritual decay; and, you can put it this way, it was a time period of a lot of issues, a lot of issues.

Sadly, those issues were not the only things going wrong for the family that we’re introduced to in these opening verses. For Elimelech, for his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, there were also other issues like food problems, starvation, as you’ll notice verse 1 says, “ . . . that there was a famine in the land.” So you know, in the Old Testament, especially in Israel, more often that not this meant God’s chastisement, it meant God’s discipline. In Leviticus 26:18-19 God actually told the Israelites and said, “And if ye will not . . . hearken unto me . . . and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass,” so because the nation had disobeyed God repeatedly over and over again, unfortunately, everyone had to suffer, including this family from Bethlehem as they were faced with starvation and a famine.

Now, the truth is in America we don’t really know this issue, right? In fact, we might have the opposite—we eat too much or we have too much food, or maybe that’s just me. I have a taco problem. I’ve got it down to about four or five every time I go out, no that’s a lie, never mind. I’m lying to you. That’s not true. But we like to eat, so we don’t really understand this problem. We’ve got tons of food, but you have to know that for these people it was a big deal. It was a really big problem. Elimelech couldn’t just pull the Suburban around and just go to In-N-Out and order a double-double. He couldn’t go to Chick-fil-A, like I did yesterday, and order a 12-piece with extra Polynesian sauce—that’s the best! He couldn’t do that. No, these people, especially back then, they had to work extremely hard for their food, extremely hard. They had to till the ground and a lot of it even depended on rain, so a famine is a big issue.

The question though is, what is Elimelech going to do? What is his family going to do, right? Would they trust the Lord to take care of them or would they bolt on outta there? Well, if you look at the second half of verse 1, the author actually tells you exactly what they did. It says that Elimelech “ . . . went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.”

Almost every commentator agrees that Elimelech should have stayed, and I will tell you that I actually believe the same thing, but I want to share with you why. It’s because although he bolted for Moab with a desire, no doubt, to provide for his family, you have to remember the Moabites were the enemies of Israel, especially during the time period of the Judges. On top of that, Elimelech was leaving the Promised Land, the land that God had specifically given to Israel—to Elimelech, his family, and the Israelites. Also, while it appears, if you look at verse 2 there’s a word there it says, “remained,” or dwell, right? It appears that he intended to stay for a little while. The word means to sojourn. He was going to go just for a short time, be a resident alien, Moab still was a place where false gods were worshiped. They were pagans. You know as well as I do, God had told the Israelites over and over and over again, “Don’t get mixed up with those things. Don’t do it.” So, Elimelech, I believe, should have trusted God to provide for him and for his family, and the simple reason I believe that too is because God always provides. Doesn’t He? He always does.

You know, David said it in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Jesus Himself, in Matthew 6 told us not to worry about food or clothing. Why? “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Instead of leaving the Promised Land and bolting for Moab, I truly believe Elimelech should’ve hung tight, trusted God; but instead, he tried to escape, run from his issues. The sad thing about that though is the issues didn’t stop there because when the family got to Moab, you’ll notice it again, verse 3, look what it says, “Then Elimelech,”—he passes away—“ . . . died.” Once in Moab, and we don’t really know when, but sooner rather than later seems to be the indication, Elimelech passed away.

Coupled with no food, coupled with starvation, all these issues, right? now we have the death of the head of the family. Things are bad, things are really bad for this family. But if you thought that the issues couldn’t get any worse, we just read it, they did, right? After we are introduced and after we meet Ruth and Orpah, the new wives of Mahlon and Chilion, Naomi’s sons, those very boys, they die as well, verse 5. Let me read it to you again, “Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman,”—so Naomi—“survived her two sons and her husband.” You want to talk about a bad day, this was it.

Do you know what? We know the feeling, don’t we. I have a dear friend of mine who I love very much who has had some health issues. He’s gone to the doctor and been unable to get any answers. It’s weighed on him, and I’ve been praying for him a lot. On top of that, I have another good friend who is having some car problems this past week. I’m not talking about brakes going out (that’s what’s happening to my car, I need some new brakes, they’re yelling at me), but I’m talking about walking out in the parking lot are realizing your car is no longer there, those kinds of issues. Today I had a student who texted me and all of the sudden is not feeling well and is going to the hospital. We understand this sentiment, right? We know these issues. We experience them.

For Naomi, the issues are just multiplying. They’re just piling up. Sadly, she’s now left without a husband and without her two boys. Now, the truth is her husband, again, I believe didn’t do so well in dealing with the issues of life, but perhaps Naomi will. Let’s see together. Let’s look at scene 2, which I have titled, “Pouting,” and you’ll see why in just a second. Verse 6, says, “Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.”

Verse 8 says, catch this, “And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’ So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, ‘Surely we will return with you to your people.’ 11 But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!’”

I want to pause right here for just a moment and discuss this. In verse 6, after losing her husband and her two boys, Naomi finally hears some good news. She hears that there’s food—there’s bread back in the Promised Land, bread back in Bethlehem. There’s food. This is a good thing for her, right? She decides, rightly so, to go back. Both she and her daughters begin to head back to the Promised Land. This is great news. The problem is, then you read verse 8. In verse 8 it says that she no longer wants them to go with her. What has changed?

In verse 10 we read that they both want to go with her, in fact, they insisted on it, “We will go with you to your people.” But she commands them to return home, and it isn’t a home back in Israel, it isn’t a home back in the Promised Land, where she’s telling them to go is to their original homes back in pagan Moab. That’s what she says. Going back with Naomi, in her mind, isn’t the right move. That’s not the right call, right? But, why? I mean, this was the Promised Land that they were heading back to. This is where the worship of the true God would take place, not Moab’s false gods. Sadly, that’s not what Naomi is thinking about or what she wants. She tells both Ruth and Orpah, “There’s no point in coming with me,” because she believes that it’s over for them if they do, and there’s just no way it’s going to work out. In her mind she can’t give them what she believes they need most, she can’t. What she believes they need most are husbands. That’s what she thinks, so she tells them both to return back to their own people.

Again, I really want us to think about this. Why? Why, why, why would she do that? Why wouldn’t she want them to be with her? Why wouldn’t she want them close? Why would she want them in Moab? Why wouldn’t she want them to know the true God, Yahweh? Why wouldn’t she want that and be surrounded by His people? Now, don’t get me wrong, would it be extremely difficult to survive in that time, in that culture, in society without a husband? Sure. Absolutely. It would. Women in that society definitely depended on a father or a husband or a brother, and Ruth has none of that. It would be difficult, but even if they didn’t find husbands, I ask you, wouldn’t God . . . don’t you believe that God would provide for them? I absolutely think He would. Why? Because remember David said, “ . . . yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” never.

Now, I want to make something clear and make sure you understand, I do not believe that Naomi hated her daughters-in-law. I believe that she one hundred percent cared for them. I believe that she loved them, and that she loved them dearly. But I also believe that Naomi allowed her issues to cloud her judgment and to blind her to the truth. That’s what I believe. I believe she got caught up in her issues. This, at times, can happen to us. It’s happened to me on numerous occasions, right? Life hits you like a car or a train, and things unravel very fast—your marriage has problems, it’s suffering; your kids aren’t doing what you’d like them to do; the workplace is just not a good environment for you anymore; people get sick in the family, you get sick, and the issues just pile up and just get out of control. It happens. We know this, and sometimes we become so fixated on those issues, so consumed that we get anxious and wound up with them that we become blind to the things that we normally know are true, things that we would normally do or see, and we just can’t see them.

Naomi knew who the true God was, but she let her issues blind her to His goodness and faithfulness. In verse 13 she even blames God for her problems and all that’s happened. In the NLT, I’ll read that to you. The second half of the verse reads like this. She says, “Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has raised his fist against me.” That’s what Naomi says. If only she could see past her issues though and what God was going to do. Right now, though, she’s in a difficult place.

Notice verse 14 as we pick back up in the story. It says, “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she,”—Naomi—“said, ‘Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ 16 But Ruth said,”—and these are some of the most beautiful verses in all of the Bible, actually, notice this—‘Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.’ 18 When she saw that,” it says that Naomi stopped speaking to her. “When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.”

As many of you know, my wife and I are expecting a son soon. He is due to be born on May 5, so if you would be praying for him that everything would go well. But I have to share something with you. I have actually already begun praying for his future spouse, and some people might think I’m crazy, you know, he hasn’t even taken his first breath yet, but I think it’s actually wise. I think it’s very wise to pray for your kids’ future spouse. I’ll tell you that for my son, I am praying that he marries a girl just like Ruth, and I’m praying that some day I’ll be as blessed as Naomi was to have a daughter-in-law like she did. Ruth truly is a bright spot, even in the midst of all the chaos and the issues. While her sister, Orpah, made a decision to go back, Ruth would not leave Naomi’s side; while Naomi is blaming God and is blinded by her issues exhibiting really faithlessness, Ruth not only placed her faith in the Lord when she said, “Your God will be my God,” but she also showed how faithful she was to her mother-in-law. She was determined to go back with her to Bethlehem, which is where we see them arriving now.

Verse 19, let’s catch it. It says, “Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ 20 But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara,”—which means bitter—“for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 ‘I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?’”

Naomi returns to Bethlehem and is greeted by some old friends. It’s been at least ten years since they’d seen her, and so naturally everybody’s excited—everyone, it seems, except Naomi. Unfortunately, she’s still blinded by her issues and her problems, and she doesn’t even acknowledge Ruth, the amazing and loyal and faithful daughter-in-law that God has blessed her with. No, she says in verse 21, “I went out full,”—but God has brought her back empty. On top of that, now she’s become extremely bitter. Her name, Naomi, which actually means (you’ll never guess this) pleasant, I know, she doesn’t want to be called that anymore. She wants to be called bitter; she wants to be called Mara. You can see now why I titled this scene, “Pouting,” can’t you?

If Naomi only knew what chapter 2 brought, and really the rest of the book for that matter. If Naomi could only see past life’s issues and trust that God was working, I wonder if she’d had been so bitter. The truth is, you and I know this, God was working. He absolutely was, right? Those of you who know the story well, you know that He was working providentially the whole time behind the scenes, working everything all out. In spite of all Naomi’s issues, in spite of all her mistakes, her blunders, in spite of all her bitterness, God was at work.

Our last scene shows us just that. Let’s look at it. We’ve seen “Problems,” we’ve seen “Pouting,” let’s now see, verse 22, “Providence.” It says, “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab.” Here’s the verse, the second part of it. Don’t miss it. It says, “Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” One verse, one; yet so, so much in it. This verse shows us that God was always with Naomi, and I’ll explain to you how.

If you go back and look at the story, you piece it all together, you’ll know that it was God who was the One who allowed Naomi in the land of Moab to hear that He had visited His people. If you continue piecing the story together, you’ll notice providentially that God allowed her to hear it at the perfect time because verse 22 says that they arrived, “ . . . at the beginning of barley harvest.” You see, in verse 1 there’s no food, starvation, it’s famine. It’s all bad. But the last verse, verse 22, there’s food! And, there’s food to go around because it is the beginning of the barley harvest. On top of this, it being the beginning of the barley harvest meant that Ruth was going to go have the opportunity to glean grain and work out in the field which, again, if you know the story, providentially she meets Boaz, the love of her life (which is where all you ladies say, “Awwwww.”) She meets her redeemer who would not only care for Ruth, but—you’ll never guess—also for Naomi! If only she had understood how much God loved her and how He was always working things out, I believe truly Naomi would’ve dealt with life’s issues a bit differently.

I want to ask you something, and forgive me for being direct, but what about you? What about me? What about us? How do we handle, how do we deal with the issues of life? I know for me, again, I haven’t always dealt with them the right way. Believe me when I tell you that August 26, 2020 was not the only “worst day” of my life. I’ve had many “worst days” of my life, lots of them. Because we know that life’s issues are going to come, how do you and I deal with them? Well, as I shared with you earlier, God helped me through this story, and so what I want to do is share it with you.

You see, God showed me how not to handle life’s issues, and then how to handle them. What I want to do is share with you four mistakes, four blunders if you will, to avoid when it comes to dealing with life’s issues. Let’s start off. The first mistake we need to avoid, the first blunder we need to avoid like Elimelech, is bolting from life’s issues. We need to avoid bolting from life’s issues. In the cartoon series Peanuts, everybody loves themselves some Charlie Brown, there’s a scene where Linus is giving his friend, Charlie Brown, some advice. They’re walking together, and he gives him some advice. Here’s what Linus says. Linus says to Charlie Brown, “I don’t like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. In fact, this is a distinct philosophy of mine—there’s no problem so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.”

While Linus, at times, no doubt gave his best friend, Charlie Brown, some good advice, that occasion surely was not one of them. The reason is because trying to run away or bolt from your issues is never a good idea, it’s not. Elimelech tried to do that when he bolted from the Promised Land, and it did not work out, it didn’t. You see, family, running from your problems and trying to escape them—take off—much like I did on August 26, 2020, it requires zero faith. Have you ever noticed that? Faith is actually what God wants us to have. I’ll share with you some examples. When the disciples are in the middle of a storm and the wind and the waves are raging, Jesus, we find, does not go to the disciples and tell them, “How come you boys didn’t row fast enough or faster to get out of the storm and try to escape it?” You don’t see that, right? No, if you know the story, what does Jesus ask the disciples? He says, “Where is your faith?”

When a young shepherd boy is face to face with a giant named Goliath, and you read that story you do not see that young shepherd boy, David, running away, Saul and the Israelites want to, but David stands there and by faith slays the giant. When Daniel hears of a new law in Babylon, a law that states that no one can pray to anyone besides the king, does Daniel bolt? Does Daniel take off? No, instead we read that Daniel went about his normal routine trusting God and praying to Him three times a day as usual, and even when he’s faced with being thrown into the den of lions, he didn’t try to escape. No, Daniel had faith; he trusted God.

Family, God does not want us to try to run and bolt away from our issues, He actually wants us to trust Him through the issues. That’s what He wants us to do. The truth is, more often than not, things actually get much worse when you try to run away. If you don’t believe me, when you get to heaven just ask Jonah how it turned out for him. I mean, if you just look at our story, too, right? Elimelech I believe tried to run and look how it turned out—not so good. It’s actually interesting because some commentators believe, even Warren Wiersbe, whom I super admire, believe that Elimelech’s death was specifically tied to him bolting from the Promised Land, that it was actually a consequence. Now, I don’t know if that was the case or not, I can’t say that, but I do wonder if he would’ve stayed, if Elimelech would have stayed, if he would’ve trusted the Lord, I wonder if things might have turned out a bit differently. Someone once said that running from your issues is a race which you’ll never win, and it’s true. I believe that. You’ll only make it worse, so don’t try to bolt.

Let me share with you mistake two that you must avoid. You must avoid when dealing with life’s issues being blinded by them—being blinded by life’s issues. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in any way that Naomi didn’t care for her daughters-in-law. I don’t believe that. I also don’t believe that she thought Moab’s gods were the true God. What I believe is that she was blinded—she was blinded momentarily by her issues. Now, were the issues devastating and tragic? Absolutely, one hundred percent. There’s no denying that. I mean, losing a loved one, many of you guys know the feeling, it’s not a good feeling. It hurts.

Not too long ago my wife lost her grandfather, and man what made it even worse is that he passed away on her birthday. My wife does a really good job of holding things together, but in front of me, I know better. It hurt. I know it did. So, please know that I am not brushing aside the issues that she had. They were absolutely, absolutely tragic and absolutely devastating; but, but while life’s issues can be tragic and can be devastating at times, we cannot allow them to blind us. We cannot lose sight of the Lord. We cannot lose sight of what He’s called us to do and what we know is true. The reality was that what was true for both Ruth and Orpah is that they should have been in the Promised Land with the true God. We need to make sure that we don’t let life’s issues consume us so that we can’t see anything else.

I want you to imagine for a moment if in Acts 16 Paul and Silas had let that happen. You say, “Pastor Chris, remind me again what their issue was?” Surely, I’ll tell you. They were just beaten, whipped, and thrown in jail. How’s that for a Tuesday, right? Real life issues. Again, imagine if they just sat around and pouted in the jail cell, “Man, this is such a bummer, Silas. Why did God allow this to happen? This is terrible! It stinks in here.” That’s what I would’ve done. “Lord, I’m serving You. Why did You let this happen?” But imagine if Paul and Silas had done that. I wonder if the Philippian jailer and his family would’ve ever received Jesus Christ. You can’t let the issues blind us.

There was somebody who momentarily allowed it to happen, Nathan actually mentioned him earlier, Peter. You guys remember Peter? Gosh, I love Peter! He’s a failure, just like me. But God is gracious. Many of you know the story in John 21. Peter, no doubt, still dealing probably with some guilt and shame from denying the Lord three times said to the disciples very famously, “I am going fishing!” The crazy thing is Jesus had called him out of that occupation. Jesus had told Peter, “You’re done with this. From now on, you’re going to catch men.” But poor Peter had lost sight of all that. Whereas Jesus so often does with us, He also graciously restored Peter, didn’t He? He told Peter, “Tend my lambs; feed my sheep.” Jesus helped Peter through his issues and regain the sight that he needed. Sometimes, family, life’s issues are extremely challenging and difficult, of that there is no doubt it is true. But we cannot let life’s issues consume us to the point where we become blinded.

Let me share with you mistake three. Mistake three that we need to avoid, we need to avoid when dealing with the problems of life blaming God for life’s problems, for life’s issues. In verse 13, if you’ll look back at it, Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah that God Himself has raised His hand against her. In verse 20, she told the women of Bethlehem that, “ . . . the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” In verse 21 she said, “ . . . the Almighty has afflicted me,” He’s done it. The New Living Translation actually reads like this, verse 21, (it’s a little bit worse in my opinion), “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?” Unfortunately, she blamed God for her issues.

Now, this isn’t new. We know that blaming God has been happening since day one, you know your Bible, Genesis 3. Something happens there, Adam and Eve, right? eat the forbidden fruit. We know Adam tells God, “It was the woman.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that story and just thought, Why, Eve, why? Look at me, blaming the woman now. She plunged us into depths of depravity! If you actually keep going, Adam didn’t stop there because who is he really blaming? Adam says, “It’s the woman YOU gave me! It’s Your fault! It’s Your fault, God; it’s the woman You gave me.” Something you must know, something I have to remind myself of—it is never right and okay to blame God for our issues. The truth is many times our issues actually are brought on by our own doing, and even if they’re not, we know as believers that God has a purpose for every issue—every issue we face. No matter what our feelings or our emotions tell us, God’s Word is true, and what we need to stand on, and God’s Word tells us that trials, problems, and the issues of life are actually for our benefit.

In 1 Peter 1:6-7 actually reminds us of this. Let me read it to you. Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” A verse many of you know, James, in his epistle, says that trials, the testing of our faith, produces patience. That word literally means endurance, steadfastness. It was the idea of toughness. Life’s issues, believe it or not, make us stronger as Christians and they help us to grow. We need them. You may not like what I’m about to say, but life’s issues are actually a blessing. They are. I know it sounds crazy, but without them, we would be very weak Christians. On top of that, we’d never know the joy of seeing God get us through them.

I cannot express to you the gratitude, in fact the tears that I shed, tears of joy, when God spoke to me through this story on August 26, 2020, because He reminded me, “Chris, it’s okay. I’ve got it. I’m working. You don’t need to feel that way. You don’t need to get bitter. You don’t need to think about leaving, I’m going to work it out.” We need trials. We must avoid Naomi’s mistake, her blunder of blaming God for her issues. We must ensure we don’t make the same mistake but instead remember that God is working everything out providentially.

Let me share with you the fourth and final mistake we must avoid in dealing with life’s issues. We must avoid becoming, as Naomi did, bitter because of life’s issues. Naomi’s response to the excitement in Bethlehem when she returns is not joyful, it’s not happy or anything close to that, instead she is bitter. In verse 20, you remember she said, “ . . . call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.” Again, I don’t want to rush over it, her issues were tragic—yes, there’s no way around that—but we must avoid at all cost, at all cost, family, you must avoid letting life’s issues make us bitter.

Instead, here is the response that you and I should have. We should have the response of a certain father whose name was Mr. Goodrich. You see, Mr. Goodrich had a son whose name was Bruce. Bruce was a student who wanted to join the cadet corps at Texas A&M. But one night a group of upperclassmen decided to mess with Bruce and haze him. They forced him to run until he couldn’t run anymore—until Bruce literally collapsed. The only problem was Mr. Goodrich’s son, Bruce, never got up. I think because I’m about to have a son of my own that this hit me a little harder, but I want to read to you the letter that Bruce’s father wrote to the school. He said:

I would like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my family for the great outpouring of concern and sympathy from Texas A&M University and college community over the loss of our son Bruce. We were deeply touched by the tribute paid to him by the battalion. We were particularly pleased to note that his Christian witness did not go unnoticed during his brief time on campus. I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter. We know that our God makes no mistakes. Our son Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his heavenly home. When the question is asked, Why did this happen? Perhaps one answer will be so that many people will consider where they will spend the rest of eternity.

If I’m being honest, I don’t know that my response to losing my son in that manner would be the same, but I do pray that it would. While I don’t really know what I would do in that situation, I do know this; family, I know that no matter what issues life brings, as Mr. Goodrich said, “Our God makes no mistakes,” and that everything happens in this life for a reason. We may not, this side of heaven, ever get the full reason as to why, we may not even ever understand why certain issues or trials come our way, but we can—listen to me very carefully—know that God is always and will be sovereign, and that by His providence and in His timing He will work everything out. We can trust that.

If you look at this story, proof of that is Naomi because the story doesn’t end here, it only gets better after chapter 1. It ends with a beautiful baby boy on Naomi’s lap, which is her grandson, and the story ends with joy. She literally gets the ‘happily ever after.’ Disney steals that from us, by the way, as Christians. We’re the only ones who get to live, 'happily ever after.’ No matter what issues we face in this life, we need to remember that God is going to work things out.

So, today is March 27, 2024, but perhaps for you you’re here tonight and it feels like August 26, 2020. Maybe you’re here tonight and lately it just feels like everything has been going wrong and the issues of life have hit you. Here’s what I’d like to say, “Family, trust in the Lord. You may not be able to see why or understand, but God is, and always will, work everything out.” The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “ . . . that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” So, no matter what issues, family, life brings your way, ask the Lord to give you faith and trust Him. Would you pray with me?

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About Pastor Chris Plaza

Pastor Chris Plaza is the Jr. High School Pastor at Revival Christian Fellowship

Sermon Summary

Pastor Chris Plaza teaches a message through Ruth 1 titled “Dealing With Life’s Issues.”

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Pastor Chris Plaza

March 27, 2024