Recommended Reading: The Book of Ruth
When the idea for this article came to my mind, I thought about the Peanuts cartoon and the character that I pictured in my mind that always had a dark cloud over his head; but, I couldn’t remember his name, so I did an online search. Well…turns out that there was no such character in Peanuts. The closest thing was the one called Pig Pen, but he always had dust around his feet, not a cloud over his head. What I did find in the search is this: “Joe Btfsplk was a character in the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner by cartoonist Al Capp. He is well-meaning but is ‘the world’s worst jinx’, bringing disastrous misfortune to everyone around him. A small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovers over his head to symbolize his bad luck. The hapless Btfsplk and his ever-present cloud became one of the most iconic images in Li’l Abner.” (Wikipedia)
So what caused me to even think about a character with a dark cloud hanging over him all the time? This morning, in the back of my Bible I found a piece of paper that has been there for a very long time. I cannot give credit to anyone for these words. I am sure this is a quote from a teaching heard at some point, but I have no idea who said it. Maybe it was just my interpretation of something they said. Anyway, this is what it says: “People who have the biggest problems in life are the people who likely have the most potential in life. Be tenacious, don’t give up, give in, give out. Press into God.” I also had the name “Boaz” in parenthesis and I am not sure exactly why. (More on that later.) Anyway, I loved these thoughts and it just made me think of some people that just seem to have bad luck all the time, thus the black cloud hanging over their heads.
So, do you know anyone that, like Joe Btfsplk, seems to just be jinxed? If they did not have bad luck they would not have any luck at all? I know that I do, and some of them are Christians with good hearts, but for some reason bad things just seem to happen to them more than I would consider “normal”. That has to be a difficult and discouraging way to live your life – but what is a person to do? You pretty much just have to keep on keepin’ on – the option is not so good. At least a Christian can lean on God for strength and courage to keep moving forward. A person that does not have that kind of faith must really flounder – possibly giving up completely or just throwing up their hands and going in a direction that is not good – thinking something like: “Oh well, what is the worst thing that could happen anyway?”
So back to Boaz. I am very familiar with him because I have read the book of Ruth in the Bible multiple times; and, he is a “leading character” in that story. So, as I reread that book, refreshing my memory about him, I realized that Boaz was not the person in that story that was “jinxed” at all – if anyone, it was Naomi and Ruth.
Here is some of the story in a nutshell: There was a famine in the land of Judah and a man named Elimelech left there with his wife Naomi and their two sons and headed to Moab. Some time after their arrival there he died leaving Naomi a widow with her two sons. Her sons married Moabite women, but then about ten years later both of the sons died, leaving the three women to struggle and try to survive on their own. Naomi got word that the Lord had blessed Judah and they once again had food, so she was determined to return there. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their parents, but one of them, Ruth, was determined to go with her. When they got back to Bethlehem they were still in an unfortunate position of being two single women that had to find a way to live. In order to have food to survive, Ruth would go into the fields, following behind the people that were harvesting, picking up what they dropped or left behind. (This was a right given to the poor at that time.) She found herself in a field belonging to a man named Boaz who noticed her and looked on her favorably, making certain more was left behind by the harvesters for her to collect.
It was customary in those times when a man died leaving a widow, the closest male relative should redeem the widow, marrying her – hopefully resulting in children to carry on the family line. When Naomi realized Ruth was working in the field of Boaz – a kinsman of her deceased husband – she had Ruth ask Boaz to redeem her.
When Ruth approached Boaz asking for him to be her redeemer he was pleased to do so; however, he knew there was one other man that should step up to do so before he did. So he told Ruth to return to Naomi and wait while he addressed the situation. When Ruth returned home and told Naomi what had happened, this is what Naomi said: “…’Sit and wait, my daughter, until you learn how this matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.’” (Ruth 3:18 AMP) Even after all she had been through, she still spoke positively and in faith, believing God would take care of it all; and, take care of it He did. Boaz took all the necessary steps and became the redeemer for Ruth, marrying her and together they had a son who eventually became the grandfather of King David and the lineage continued until Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was born – putting Naomi and Ruth in the place of ancestors to Jesus.
So, here is a breakdown of the “jinxes” in this story: #1 – A famine in the land of Judah affecting Elimelech and his wife Naomi and their sons. #2 – Naomi and her husband and sons had to move to a strange land in order to survive the famine. #3 – Naomi’s husband dies. #4 – Naomi’s sons both died. #5 – Naomi is left alone with her daughters-in-law to survive. #6 – Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem still poverty stricken with no way to care for themselves. #7 – Naomi and Ruth had to travel alone in order to return to Judah. #8 – Ruth had to scrounge for food so that she and Naomi could eat. But through it all, through all that “bad luck” – even though I am sure she was very discouraged at how her life was going, Naomi stayed tenacious, didn’t give up, give in, give out. She pressed into God. Therefore, because of their dependence on one another, Ruth did the same.
If you will read the four chapters that is the book of Ruth, you will read a truly wonderful story – it is one of my favorites. The man Boaz was a wealthy man that was kind, generous, honorable, compassionate, gentle, a leader, committed. He actually was a picture of Jesus Christ, our guardian-redeemer that was to come. The name Boaz means, “in him is strength”; and he was able to turn the bad luck story of Naomi and Ruth into a story of victory because of all his goodness and strength.
So if it seems like you are living the life of Joe Btfsplk with a dark cloud forever hanging over you, never give up, give in or give out. Stay tenacious and press into God, speaking out your faith and believing the bad can and will be turned to good. There are multiple stories in the Bible where God turned what was intended to be a negative outcome around to be good. If all those negative things had not occurred in the life of Naomi, then the timing would not have been perfect for her to return to her homeland with Ruth at her side; for Ruth to meet Boaz and marry him; and, produce a son that resulted in the lineage of Jesus coming about. Could God have used someone else to have achieved the same results? Yes. But maybe not with the perfection that it was. Remember always: “…we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.“ Romans 8:28 (TLB) So live every day of your life, no matter what is happening around you, loving God and doing your best to fit into His plans for your life. You never know at which corner you turn where the victory will be waiting for you.
Written by Karran Martin – August 5, 2022