This is part 1 of 4 of the story of two biblical women, pressing forward despite adversity and used by God despite being lowly outsiders. I plan to post once a day for the three remaining days until Christmas and final post on Christmas.
For context on this series, including what we wrote this for and why I’m posting it to my blog, read the intro here.
FEAR, PAIN, DARKNESS
Ruth’s sadness about Mahlon’s death (based on Ruth chapter 1)
When Mahlon and his family moved to town, there was a spark of something in them that drew me in. They were different, and their God, Adonai, seemed different. They had a hope that was more foreign to me than any of their strange family traditions.
They welcomed me into their family, and their strange ways began to feel right to me. Before I married Mahlon I was just a poor Moabite girl, but afterwards, life felt full.
When Mahlon’s father Elimelech died, a deep sadness fell over our entire family.
When Mahlon’s brother, Kilion died, I watched his mother Naomi weep bitter tears. The chilling emptiness inside of me grew more vast.
When I lost my Mahlon, I wept until I thought my tears had run dry, and then I wept more. I mourned the loss of Mahlon’s life, but also the loss of my own life.
I was a widow.
I was a nobody.
I had nothing.
If the hunger didn’t kill me, I thought my grief might. My hope to have children and a legacy was dwindling.
With her husband and two sons gone, Naomi sank into a deep and bitter despair. I was ashamed that I had nothing to offer her. She had made me feel more at home than I had ever felt in my own mother’s home and given me everything she had to give. She was preparing to return to her homeland, Bethlehem.
She begged Kilion’s wife, Orpah, and me to go home to Moab and build a new life for ourselves. Orpah heeded her pleas. I would not. The harder Naomi pushed me away, the harder I clung to her. “Please! Go to Moab. Your life isn’t over like mine,” she cried.
Leave Naomi to die alone? Never! Return to Moab? My “home”? No! Moab had nothing to offer me. Moab was as barren as I was.
Fearful, hungry, tired, and poor, Naomi and I set out together for Bethlehem.
My friend Jill wrote this next piece from Mary’s perspective.
Mary’s Unexpected Pregnancy
by Jill Hicks
I can’t believe it. But I DO believe it. It wasn’t a dream. My head still hurts when I think about the light.
I’ve never seen an angel before, but I heard about them from the old stories. And it was like … so much white, but every color too. It burned into my eyes and sort of blazed through my body. I felt more alive, more real, than I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
I’ve never even been with a man. But the angel said I’m going to have a baby anyway. And it’s not just any baby. It’s a baby Messiah!
What is Joseph going to think?
I’ve loved Joseph from the beginning. The way he makes all those beautiful things out of plain old wood. And the way he nervously smiled at me the first time we talked. It made me laugh when I saw his awkward, silly grin. Even though he’s a lot older, I almost took his hand first. He’s just so cute when he’s nervous!
Oh, no. Oh, no … He’s going to think I slept with somebody else! What if he breaks our engagement? I’ll have nothing! There’ll be nobody to take care of me and the baby. No food. No home! Where will I go? I’ll lose everything!
I think I’m going to throw up.
Deep breath, Mary. He hasn’t broken up with you yet.
But I know he’s going to! He wants to do the right thing. He always follows the laws. Joseph could easily humiliate me and my family in front of the whole town. How will he ever believe that I’m pregnant with the actual Messiah? He already thinks I’m a little dramatic!
[growing excited again] Oh my goodness, the Messiah! I can’t believe it. I’ve heard all the stories. That Yahweh’s Messiah-king would come someday. But I thought he’d just come marching in from somewhere and set us all free from the Roman soldiers. That’s what the elders and the priests always say.
But instead, he’s going to be a little baby first! And Adonai chose ME to take care of him.
On the other hand, I’m so young. I always forget things at the market … it’s not like I can teach him to read … and I can’t even remember to feed my goat half the time! How am I ever going to take care of a baby Messiah?
Maybe I’m the wrong person to do this! I know Yahweh isn’t supposed to make mistakes, but maybe this is all wrong. Maybe he made a mistake choosing me. Does that happen?
No, the angel said it was me who was favored. He said that God was with me. And I believed him. There’s no going back.
I’m really scared. If I’m going to do this thing, I need somewhere to go. I need God to give me someone who will believe me … and I need to know that this isn’t a mistake.
I know what I’ll do. The angel said my older cousin Elizabeth was pregnant too. I’ll go visit her and help her with her baby. And I know Elizabeth will help me work through all this stuff in my brain. Maybe she’ll know if I’m out of my mind.
Tomorrow: Ruth and Mary on the power of friendship.