Ruth Offers Wisdom in Handling Unknowns

The year of unknowns would be an accurate tagline for 2020. Which of us hasn’t experienced something completely unexpected this year? Today’s guest post by writer and teacher Marlene Houk offers biblical wisdom for handling the unknowns in our lives. I trust this post will be an encouragement to you!

Post by Marlene Houk

Lysa TerKeurst relates to unknowns in her book1, “When we need to know something, as a Christian, it makes us turn to God. We are willing to follow God even though we don’t know what we’re doing” (Terkeurst, 2018).

Does the unknown affect us? Building that first house? Learning the intricacies of a new job? Caring for our first baby: that tiny human, helpless and dependent upon our knowledge and wisdom?

My husband and I experienced significant confusion when we brought our daughter home. She seemed quite delicate and dainty, but what was coming out of her wasn’t! After seven times, while my husband paced frantically, he suggested we take her back to the hospital! Even after years of helping my mother keep babies in our home, I was confused myself. After we calmed down and realized a baby’s diet may cause her to assimilate differently and newborns needed to get their systems working, we heaved sighs of relief. But those emotions ran high because we didn’t know what to do.

Harnessing our emotions

After reading the book of Ruth, I realized that unknowns fill her story. Not knowing creates within us emotions ranging from eagerness to fear and from rapid heartbeat to goosebumps. Unawareness creates devastating results as in the sinking of the Titanic.

But, as Christians, when we realize that God knows our unknowns, we don’t need to fret about them. We do need to research, collect information, and make decisions. But, many times unknowns still exist. If we train ourselves, they can encourage us to trust the God who knows. We can then make our decisions—but leave the outcome to Him. Knowing that God is already in the future, waiting for us, clears the fog of panic and empowers us to focus.

As Christians, when we realize that God knows our unknowns, we don’t need to fret about them. ~ Marlene Houk on @khogrefeparnell

The best emotion to come from unknowns could be amazement and wonder when God shows us spiritual truth. Imagine what Ruth felt as she realized that God had indeed taken care of her and Naomi by preparing Boaz for them. Experiencing the truth of God’s care birthed wonder in her heart at the generosity of her newly found Redeemer.

Coping with uncertainty

Ruth’s unknowns show us how to cope with our uncertainties. Looking at Ruth’s story in a generic way reveals that her unknowns are very similar to ours today. The following list contains a few of the unknowns in her narrative.

1. She didn’t know about her direction in life.

2. She didn’t know how to walk with a friend through grief.

3. She didn’t know how to find a husband.

4. She didn’t know who to trust. She possibly knew her future husband for less than three months.

How do we handle the feelings that arise from unknowns in our lives? Does your heart sink at the array of many choices? Sometime being healthy eludes us and causes frustration and fear. Conversely, you may be eager to attack your lack of knowledge. Many might shout, Google! I agree because I research as quickly as an eyelash can blink. Or, perhaps, an unknown requires us to consult an expert such as a specialist, repairman, or doctor. Our struggles may demand articulating them to a professional such as a counselor or psychiatrist to help us separate our emotions from our identity. 

As Christians, our confusion pushes us to follow the Truth, nudges us to go and work in God’s fields, and causes us to look to Jesus who pierces our concerns with clarity.

Dealing with unknowns

How is Ruth showing us methods for dealing with our unknowns?

1. Follow the truth that you do know: For example, Boaz followed the Mosaic law that he knew (Ruth 3:11-12). We know that Christ fulfilled the law and that John 14:6 says that He is the truth. So, when we follow Him, we follow truth.

2. Go do the next right thing (Ruth 2:2). Ruth asked Naomi if she could go, and Naomi said go. Ruth went, even though she didn’t know where to connect with her kinsman redeemer. Her story overflows with Ruth going to the fields to provide for her mother-in-law.

3. THINK about the way God works in your life (Ruth 2:12). Realize truths from what God has already done. Ruth, at some point, learned that Boaz’s mother was a prostitute, rescued by Hebrew spies. They saved Rahab and her family, and she became Boaz’s mother (Matthew 1:5). Ruth could reason from this that God was an inclusive God, and he would find a way for her to fit in too.

Now, a few decades later, we demonstrate more relaxation in our role as mom and dad. We followed parenting truths gleaned from years of advice. My husband and I activated this wisdom in the daily care of our children. And we acquired priceless truths from this journey. We learned, like Ruth, that our unknowns lead us to God and His ways for dealing with them. Ruth’s plan for managing unknowns (follow, go, think) are ready for you to glean from the Master’s hands. 

~ Marlene

Ruth offers wisdom in handling unknowns by Marlene Houk on @khogrefeparnell

1Reference: TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Thomas Nelson, 2018.

About the Author

Marlene Houk opens doors of truth through her passion to bring alive the stories of women in the Bible. She reveals patterns in their stories that lead to biblical thinking, empowering emotional healing. Determined to find and apply truth, she connects the Bible’s wisdom to everyday living through thought-provoking questions that help others to embrace wholeness and freedom. Leading women’s Bible studies for ten years has increased her passion to share profound and life-changing truths with others. She and Sid, her husband of 38 years, have two adult children and two grandchildren. After work, you might catch a glimpse of her at the lake, watching the sun on the water.

About Hidden in a List

Do you have a plan when life kicks you to the curb in its daily grind and when disaster strikes? Imagine relying on simple, doable, Scripture-based steps to realign your emotions with God’s Word. In this short read, called Hidden In a List: secrets from Bible women, you can:

  • Unlock proven secrets to control reactions and instead act from a God-given perspective.
  • Triumph in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as he overcomes fears and failures.
  • Delight for a lifetime in using these secrets and sharing them with others.
  • Conquer insecurities by following the women of the Bible.
  • Boldly increase your faith and hope as a daily part of life.

Available on Amazon.

When Friends Love: 3 Outcomes of Godly Friendships

I’m excited to introduce you to my friend and Bible teacher Sheila Hupp, who is sharing about the power of godly friendship on the blog today. It’s such a neat story how we connected! Pastor Joe Ferreira, my former pastor, now shepherds her church in Connersville, Indiana where I had the privilege to speak last year. Through mutual friends, we’ve had the opportunity to meet online, and I’ve been blessed by the way she presents God’s Word with clarity and simplicity.

As we walk through this year filled with uncertainty, we need godly friends more than ever to come alongside us, and we need to be that kind of friend to others. Be encouraged today by this challenge from Sheila.

Guest post by Sheila Hupp

At the beginning of the year, I started reading the Bible from the beginning in hopes that I would finish all 66 books by the end of December. I have always been intimidated by the Old Testament but once I dug in, I have become a huge fan. What surprised me most of all was how much I love Moses. I have been completely blown away by his humble leadership and the amazing example of his life.

Personally, I admire how Moses felt completely inadequate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, yet God chose him and used him anyway. Moses was God’s choice for the leader of His people; however, Moses did not lead them alone. As any good leader knows, a strong support system is necessary for success. Moses had a wonderful friend and advisor in his brother Aaron and many other friends who helped him along the way.

Friends Work Together

During the time of reading Exodus, I was inspired by Moses’ reliance on his friends and the success they all achieved from working together.  One instance that melted my heart and made me look at friendship in a new light was when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites (Exodus 17:8-13).

The story begins with Joshua being ordered to round up his soldiers and fight while Moses prepared to go up on a hill the next morning. On that hill during the battle, Moses raised his hands toward heaven, and the Israelites were able to fight and take a stronghold over the Amalekites. As Moses’ arms grew tired and his hands began to drop, the Amalekites grew in power and started to overtake the Israelites.

The beauty of this event is that Moses was not alone on top of that hill. Aaron and Hur joined him and were seeing the same events take place. They saw that when Moses had his hands up in praise to God that the Israelites were strong and dominant. They also saw that as Moses grew tired and his strength began to wane, the enemy had the advantage.

Friends Go to Battle Together

This is when the story gets good. Aaron and Hur did not just sit back and watch their people lose, nor did they stand still while Moses struggled. These two men jumped into action and held up Moses’ hands when he could not any longer. Moses was depleted and his people were suffering. Moses was tired and the battle was being lost. Alone, Moses could not lift his arms in worship to God, but his friends who journeyed up the hill with him were willing and ready to lend their strength during his time of exhaustion.

Each time I read this story, I weep. What an incredible illustration of the need for good, Christ-focused friends. This story makes me seek out friends who will go to battle with and for me, friends who will rush to hold my hands up when I no longer have the strength.

God created us, just like Adam and Eve, to live in fellowship with one another while simultaneously living in worship to Him. When this occurs in the church, our friendships play crucial roles in the growth and depth of our faith. The people we surround ourselves with can either distract us from our faith, or they can run ahead of us toward a deeper faith and a stronger longing for Christ.

Friends Share Strength

In January, my 40-year-old husband was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer. We were shocked and heartbroken over this discovery and clung to our faith. Our family and friends rallied around me, my husband Matt, and our three young daughters. They lent us their strength when we were running on empty. They reminded us of the view from the mountaintop while we were living in the valley. We were in a war, and they jumped in to hold up our hands.

To Aaron and Hur, it may not have seemed like holding up Moses’ hands was a big deal. They may have even dismissed their contribution to the victory. But to the warriors at the bottom of the hill engulfed in battle, this small act saved them. This illustration of shared strength resulted in life, not death.

As the people we love encounter hard times, we have a great opportunity to love them through it. Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times” (NKJV). This includes the wonderful mountaintops and the grotesque valleys. We may not be able to solve the issue or make the pain go away, but we can find ways to walk up the hill with them and hold their hands up when they need it.

My prayer for you and for me is that we will be friends who love at all times and raise future generations of believers who fiercely love their people.

Be encouraged by this guest post by Bible teacher Sheila Hupp who challenges us to be the kind of friend who loves at all times. @khogrefeparnell

About Sheila Hupp

Sheila Hupp is a Christian speaker based in Indiana with a passion for encouraging women to view life through a lens of faith.  Sheila guides women of all ages to embrace their past and live their future for God’s glory by allowing Him to make miracles out of messes.

During her presentations, women are empowered to step into the role God created for them and given the biblical resources to support and encourage each woman in her faith.

Sheila is the proud wife to Matt and mama to three girls: Gracie, Mattie, and Emmylou. She and her husband homeschool their children and enjoy spending time together outside with their dog Annie.

Connect with her online at sheilahupp.com


Questions from the Bride, Part 1

As a soon-to-be bride, I asked my friend and mentor Tami Myer of MannaForMarriage.com several questions to help prepare me for my wedding this month. Although the wedding event is beautiful, we both believe that preparing for a lifelong marriage is more important than preparing for a single day. Having been on her own marriage journey for over thirty years, she graciously agreed to share some of the lessons she’s learned along the way. Please join me in welcoming Tami! I hope her answers to my questions will encourage and bless you as much as they have me.

Bride: Opposites do attract, and my fiancé and I are no exception! What advice can you give to help us celebrate these differences instead of resenting them?

Yes, celebrate your differences! You will have to be deliberate about doing that, though. Otherwise, you will drift into frustration and resentment.

You could start by making a list of those differences. (And then make another list after you have been married for a few months because you will discover more, believe me.) As you review your “reasons for celebration,” make the conscious choice to look for ways to make these differences work for you, not against you. Where can they provide balance? Where can they add strength? How might they simply provide richness and color? How do they give insight into your different needs and unique perspectives?

Remind yourself—and your husband–that your differences are for accepting, appreciating, and enjoying. Be deliberate about complementing and complimenting, rather than competing and condemning.

As you yield to the Spirit, your spouse’s differences will either delight you or polish you. Either way, they are blessings!

Bride: So often, I hear, “The first year is extremely hard.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I am glad that you heard that the first year is difficult because, for many couples, it is! Simply knowing that can be very helpful. It is like putting your seat belt on when the pilot announces that the plane may encounter turbulence: you will be better prepared to handle the situation well.

During your first year of marriage, you might feel as though you are in junior high because everything is intense. It can be an emotional roller coaster. It certainly helps to know that this is normal!

Here are some examples of common first-year turbulence:

  • You think that you made a terrible mistake.
  • You are alarmed that your husband is not the man you married.
  • You panic.
  • You are disappointed.
  • Your feelings get hurt.

When you experience some (or all) of these things, you can come back to this article and check them off your first-year to-do list. Then you can also check off these items:

  • You have many wonderful joys!
  • You experience new adventures.
  • You learn more about the amazing, complex, fascinating person that your husband really is.
  • You learn surprising things about yourself.
  • You learn awesome things about your God.

You will find that you made it through junior high again!  And through each successive year, you will learn how to make it the best one yet.

Bride: Perhaps because I’m getting married in my thirties, I don’t have the “rose-colored-glasses” view that a teen or twenty-something might have. Instead, I’ve seen enough life and marriage struggles to know marriage isn’t always easy. What encouragement can you offer the new bride?

This is a common concern, even for younger brides (and grooms). Many people are a bit hesitant to marry because they have not observed healthy marriages up close and in action. However, they have seen countless shipwrecked marriages, and they wonder if they will be able to steer the ship of marriage any better themselves.

But take courage! It is quite possible to sail that ship triumphantly, and many have done so. It will take work, of course, but sailing is not a mysterious skill. You can learn! You must choose your teachers carefully, but there are many who are trustworthy and who are eager to help you and support you.

Building a marriage is a lot like building a house. Although many have never seen the blueprints, and many others refuse to follow them, there is a reliable blueprint for marriage. Take courage! There is a Master Builder, and He is eager to help with every part of the construction.

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. In this fallen world, good things are always opposed, and great things are greatly opposed. You must simply remember that you are holding something very valuable in your hands—something sacred. Don’t let go! Refuse to believe that marriage is not worth the effort.

Your marriage is not a hobby; it is a commitment to serve another person, someone made in the image of God. As you minister to your spouse, your submission to God becomes a platform for His Spirit. He will work powerfully and redemptively in both your life and your husband’s.

Marriage is not only like sailing a ship and like building a house, but it is also like growing a garden. You will have to dig up stubborn roots and lug away heavy rocks. You will wonder if the weeds will ever stop coming. But take courage! You will also be planting and pruning, watering and weeding.

And beautiful things will grow.

For more marriage encouragement, check back next week for more questions from the bride, and visit Tami’s website MannaForMarriage.com.

Tweetables

Questions from the Bride, Part 1 – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)