Unwanted by Others, Wanted by God

We’ve all felt unwanted at some time in our lives, right? You know the feeling, I’m sure.

This past Sunday, I spoke at a church in rural SC, and afterward a teenage girl, “Rachel,” who is a junior in high school came and talked to me. When I asked her about how she came to know Jesus, she shared her story and how she felt so unwanted through junior high and part of high school. That led her to explore Christianity, where she found in Jesus a God who wanted her. While others had let her down, God gave up everything – even his one and only Son – so that she could come to know him personally.

This morning I was studying the last chapter of the book of Ruth, and I couldn’t help but reflect on my conversation with Rachel.

Ruth, the grandmother of King David and Jesus, was a Moabite woman. She became part of an Israelite family, the family of Naomi and Elimelech, when she married their son. They had left their town of Bethlehem to survive a famine, and they found food in the land of Moab and settled there. The Moabites were considered one of the most evil people around as their religion included child sacrifice.

When Naomi’s husband and two sons died, she and Ruth became destitute. Naomi tried to get Ruth to go back to her people so she could survive, but Ruth showed Naomi extravagant kindness by vowing to stay and take care of her: “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.”

It’s a beautiful story, and I’d encourage you to read the whole short book if you haven’t already. When Ruth and Naomi moved back to Bethlehem, a man named Boaz was amazed at Ruth’s kindness toward his relative Naomi. As a kinsman redeemer, Boaz was the only hope for Ruth and Naomi’s survival. If he agreed to buy Elimelech’s property and hold it until Ruth produced a child (who would inherit the land), both Ruth and Naomi would be under his protection for the rest of their days.

Well, Boaz was Naomi’s second closest relative, so he sat down with her closest relative to give him the first chance to redeem the land. This closest relative said, “I will redeem it.” However, Boaz then told him that along with the land he would acquire the unwanted Moabite woman. The man then said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

That goes to show not only how Ruth was unwanted but also how Boaz showed incredible kindness when he redeemed Naomi’s land and agreed to take Ruth as his wife. Together, Boaz and Ruth bore a son named Obed, who fathered a son named Jesse, who fathered a son named King David.

Part of why the book of Ruth is included in the Bible is because God wants us to know he loves us. While we may be unwanted by some, we’re wanted by him. He wanted to adopt us into his family so badly that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to redeem us like Boaz redeemed Ruth. God’s cost was great, but it’s because he so wants us to know him personally.



photo credit: Tjololo Photo A portrait via photopin (license)

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About Chad Young

Chad Young works in full-time college ministry, serving as Cru Global’s national director over the southeast region, leading the ministries in FL, GA, AL, and MS. He has served on the staff of Cru for fifteen years. He is the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World (InterVarsity Press), a discipleship-training manual, and magazine articles for Worldwide Challenge and The Collegiate. He frequently speaks at retreats and conferences and regularly writes devotionals for his website, Chad, with his wife Elizabeth, travels the country to speak at churches and train church leaders how to make Biblical disciples. Chad currently resides in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Elizabeth and their four young children, Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn, and Josilynn. His hobbies include cheering on his kids in sports, following college football, and laughing with family around the backyard fire pit.
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