You have agonized over your plan for an abortion, half horrified at yourself, and half proud that you are bold enough to consider such a difficult step to exit your dilemma.

You are pregnant, not married; the baby’s father doesn’t want to marry you, and you are not sure you would want to marry him, given all the things he said the night of the fight. He’s not going to support you. Dare you even ASK him? — no, can’t do that; he wouldn’t support you if you had the baby, and beside, you are too proud to propose the idea.

Abortion is terrible, you know, and wrong. But you feel you have no other way out if you are going to avoid living with your parents again, keep your job, make payments on your car and keep up the rent on your efficiency.

You ask yourself how could you, a Christian, fall into such a mess? How is it that you, a girl who goes to church, could arrive at such a difficult situation? You feel used. You feel unclean. You feel cheated.

As a church person, you need to remember that nothing happens outside the providence of God, not even the sins we commit and the necessary consequences that flow from them. This teaching is a great comfort to the Christian in misery. God uses even our disobedience to accomplish His plan, whether on the plane of one’s individual life, or the disposition of nations and peoples.

THIS CLAIM IS EVIDENT the story of one of Jesus’ ancestors,  Ruth, a Moabitess who was not from birth one of the children of Israel. Remember, Ruth was the widow who gleaned the fields to ease her poverty and who was discovered by her near kinsman, Boaz, and finally chosen by him as wife. If only such rescue and security could be afforded to you, you think.

The biblical record preserves Ruth’s story because it tells many things about God (whom you have offended), and about His mercy even in a time of judgment and distress. If we delve into the particulars, we can see the claim God makes upon you and your unborn child, and see proof of His good and generous way to those who have become alien to Him. Ruth lived a life faithful to God amid bitter circumstances that were the result of OTHER PEOPLE’S sin, and though alien from God by birth and race, she came to love Him and she clung to Him.

Ruth was from the people descended from Lot, a cousin of the patriarch Abraham upon whose seed God built the 12 tribes of Israel and the commonwealth of Israel in Old Testament times. To be a Moabite was to be despised by the Israelites, who were taught by God to be distinct from the peoples around them and to spurn them because they universally rejected Him.

In a time of famine the man Elimelech moved away from the place of his people, the Israelites, to the land of Moab for sustenance. Israel was being judged for the sins of its people, and bread was scarce. Perhaps Elimelech’s response should not have been to go to a foreign place, where strange Gods were worshiped, but to resort to others of his people. In this train that fled Israel was Naomi his wife, whose name means amiable or pleasant one, for such she was. Two sons took to the trail, too. Their names suggest the dark forboding of those times, for the name Chilion means consumption and Mahlon means sickness. As the family settled, these sons looked upon the fair women of the land and were drawn into marriages with what the Bible commonly terms “strange wives.”

For Christians today and Israelites in the old republic God imposes a ban on the marriage of people outside the faith. Israelites were not allowed to marry Philistines, Midianites and any other sort, including the undistinguished Moabites. But Mahlon and Chilion broke from God, chose wives from among these people. In the providence of God, these husbands died, leaving widows Orpah and Ruth.

Matthew Henry in his commentary suggests that perhaps their days were shortened because they married outside the faith. These two women wept with Naomi and increased her distress, for she, too, had fallen to widowhood with the death earlier of Elimelech. It was an all-’round disaster: three widows.

These women were united in grief, with Naomi suggesting she be called Mara (bitter), “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” Hearing that bread had returned to Israel, Naomi announced her plan to return to her own people. She had faithfully followed her husband away from her people, away from her land. Now that he was gone, she determined to set matters right. She had heard that in their own land, there was bread once again. “Forced absence from God’s ordinances, and forced presence with wicked people, are great afflictions,” Henry notes; “but when the force ceases, and such a situation is continued of choice, then it becomes a great sin.”

Wanting to be fair to her daughters-in-law, Naomi suggested they return to their kin and their gods. Orpah agrees to go. But Ruth clings to Naomi, which satisfies Naomi’s secret hope in all her words encouraging the daughters-in-law to depart. “Intreat me not to leave thee,” Ruth cries,

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