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Pentecost 18 Devotion on Struggle

Today’s Old Testament reading comes from the first chapter of the book of Ruth. The devotion for today is adapted from Ruth: More than a Love Story by Elizabeth Ahlman.

Scripture Readings

Ruth 1:1–19a

Pslam 111; antiphon: v. 10

2 Timothy 2:1–13

Luke 17:11–19

Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder

Devotional Reading

Like Naomi, we have all encountered times of struggle, emptiness, bitterness, and pain. Like Job and Jeremiah, we have felt the hand of the Lord come out against us for sometimes seemingly inexplicable reasons. We have felt as though He is absent and not working in our lives. We have not been able to see His work behind the scenes. We have asked, “Where is the Lord?” and “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Often, God in His hiddenness seems distant, cruel, and arbitrary. The temptation in those times is to try to figure out what God is doing and why. Have we sinned in some specific way? Is God trying to tell us something about how we need to change or do something differently? Or perhaps, like Naomi, we resign ourselves to our suffering and turn ever inward, wallowing in our misery and blocking out all around us.

It is not to God’s hiddenness that we should look in times of struggle and pain. It is not to ourselves that we should turn. Rather, we look to God in His revealed self. God reveals Himself in mercy in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is to Him we cling, like Ruth clung to Naomi and like God clings to us. Clinging to Christ crucified, we ride out the storm brought on by God in His hiddenness (see Isaiah 45:7). We take solace in the Church, where God’s revealed Means of Grace are found, remembering our Baptisms and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. And sometimes, when we come out on the other end, we can look back and see the marks of God’s other means for working mercy—the people who love us, the random strangers encountered on the way, the timing of everything—although we could not see these things before. For Naomi, God hid Himself in Ruth and in the timing of their return. What He works through those two things is amazing.

Prayer

O Holy Spirit, Giver and Strengthener of faith, grant that we, like Ruth, may confess the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so others may hear of Your great mercy and be brought to faith in the waters of Holy Baptism, for You live and reign with the Father and the Son, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Devotional reading and prayer adapted from Ruth: More than a Love Story, page 58 and 41 © 2014 Elizabeth Ahlman; published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture: ESV®.

Hymn of the Day

Hymn of the Day is “May God Bestow on Us His Grace” from Luther’s Divine Service: A Festival Setting for Small Choirs  by Jacob B. Weber
© 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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