The story of Ruth begins, not with Ruth, but Elimelech, the husband of Ruth.
In a time of great struggle, he was left to make a difficult decision. How do I provide for my family? Should I stay in my homeland, or should I leave?
He heard there was food in Moab. And so he left.
In retrospect, this turns out to be a bad decision. He ends up dying in a foreign land, along with his two sons, leaving his wife and his two daughter-in-laws widows.
Ruth is introduced to us by way of a test. Naomi has decided to return to her home, but is uncertain if her daughters-in-law are truly loyal, so she encourages them to stay home. On their trip back, Naomi tests the loyalty of Ruth and Orpah multiple times.
The first time, she frees them from any expectations or burden of duty they might feel.
The first test, they pass. They are faithful.
The second test, she is persuasive; arguing that she has no more husbands to provide them.
This persuades Orpah. She returns back home.
But Ruth says.
And so for a third time, Naomi attempts to persuade Ruth.
But Ruth replies with a deep, convicted reply,
In my life, I will be surrounded by tests.
Some will be obvious, some will be quiet.
I will be asked, “Will you stay in difficult times? Or will you leave?” My prayer and hope is that I pass these tests. If I keep my focus on God, I can persevere.