A long time ago in a land far, far away, a sweet woman lived with food and family, in a little town called The House of Bread.
But the food ran out in the little town.
A shadowy fear crept up, like a thief, and sat at the margin of her starving mind as her stomach began to scream for bread.
She didn’t want to die in her desperation so she, along with her two sons, and her husband, went to live in another land even further away.
First her husband dropped dead.
Some psychologists say, that the death of a spouse, is the second most sorrowful loss experienced by the sensitive, human heart.
Fear stepped closer as it laughed and whooped at her new widowhood.
Then her beloved boys breathed their last.
Those same psychologists say, that the loss of a child is the ultimate loss, that lashes the heart with a searing whip of scarring pain.
She lost two sons and fear frolicked and grinned at her grim circumstances.
The thieving fear that remained on the margins of her mind stepped closer to her.
It demanded to be fed, so that it could grow and finally swallow her whole.
But she was a daughter of God even though she strayed far from her homeland, the House of Bread.
One of her beloved boys had married a foreign unbeliever before he died.
Ruth was her name and in Hebrew her name means a close companion.
A companion is literally (from the Latin) a “bread-friend.” A person with whom we share bread.
Before the fear could engulf this mother-in-law named Naomi, she made a decision.
It would be a single decision that would change the course of cosmic history.
She decided that she would do two things to starve her fear.
- First she began to starve her fear by feeding her faith.
Instead of looking at her poverty, hopelessness and helplessness, she looked and listened to God alone.
An entire book of Scripture (the book of Ruth) tells this ancient, rags-to-riches story, in delicious detail.
Specifically, Naomi decides to return to the House of Bread, simply because she heard the news that God had caused the wheat to grow again.
Faith is putting all of our confidence in the reality of God’s resources.
Faith is filtering our fears through the fact of God’s promises.
Naomi will feed her faith by returning to God.
How many of us stray far from God and begin to starve in the dark shell of suffering in which we have surrounded ourselves?
The world tells us to look inside and to trust our inner feelings.
If we’re honest, this is a recipe for walking in circles as fear glides above us like a vulture.
Faith looks out to the living, caring God.
It is often, in the tightening fist of fear, as we begin to “crack up” spiritually-- and emotionally-- and financially-- and relationally, when we finally decide to return to the living, loving God.
Just as a beautiful, baby bird begins to crack out of its stifling surroundings, by literally cracking up the superficial shell that suffocates it, we too must look out in faith in order to fly free.
Outside of our circumstantial shells we finally see the reality of His resources.
We must starve our fear by feeding our faith.
- The second thing Naomi does to starve her fear is engage in the selfless service of others.
Naomi loved Ruth deeply and told her to return to her family. Naomi knew that Ruth, a widow with insufficient resources, would be served best by the safety and security of her own family.
Naomi starved her fear by serving the real needs of Ruth even while she was personally suffering.
How many of us become self-absorbed when we suffer. We feed our fear by selfishly demanding that others orbit around our sad situation.
The secret to starving our fear though, centers on focusing outward in service in order to supply the needs of others.
Just when Naomi had starved her fear by feeding her faith and focusing on serving the needs of others, Ruth speaks.
She says some of the most beautifully fulfilling words in all of sacred scripture:
Ruth 1:16-17 16 But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where 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. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you."
Naomi now had a companion as she travelled back to the House of Bread, the little town of Bethlehem.
If you roam around in the little book of Ruth a little further, a few more things bloom into beauty.
Ruth would soon marry a man who owned a field fruitful with food.
Ruth would be the Great Grandmother of David, the King of the Jews.
Many years later, in that same little town called the House of Bread, Jesus, a direct descendent of Ruth, would be born.
And all who focus and feed on him alone, know the secret of how to starve fear forever.
What direction are your eyes looking in your loss?
Let’s look to Him!
Metro North Church