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before Elimelech is cut off; and Naomi is left a widow, a mourning widow, in a foreign land. There is something melancholy in the thought of this dying Jew breathing his last among strangers. It is true, he had probably a tender wife, and dutiful sons, near his dying bed. But there was no minister to tell him of his sins, to call him to repentance, and to direct him to a promised Saviour.
It is more than likely, that Elimelech's heart may have grown cold in this heathen land. For though God can keep us anywhere by His Holy Spirit, and can bless us even without the ordinary means of grace, still if we have wilfully turned our backs upon His blessings, we must expect that our souls will suffer loss, and we shall find Him far off, when we most need His presence.
The case of Naomi was different from Elimelech's. Though he may have been wrong to leave Judæa, it was clearly her duty not to separate herself from her husband. She was a godly woman: and though the Lord strewed her path with many trials, yet He never forsook her. No doubt her aching heart was often soothed by the affectionate care of her two sons. But, most of all, she must have felt comfort in looking up to that heavenly Friend, who was watching over her. And something now seemed sweetly to whisper to her, “Thy Maker is thy Husband;" “ The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow."
Ah, dear Reader, it is in the hour of our deepest grief that our God is nearest to us.
" He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.” Oh, what a charm there is in such a promise! Better, far better, is it to be in sorrow, if Christ is with us, than to enjoy prosperity, if He is far from us. Noah cared little for the tempest around him ; for God was by him in the ark. Joseph was happy in his dungeon ; because God was at his side. The fiery furnace and the lions' den were places of safety and peace; because God was with His servants.
And if you are serving God, He will stand by you in your sharpest trials. He will be near you on your sick bed. And even if your earthly friends should
be far away, you will be able to say, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
Alas, how apt we are to think more of our troubles, than of the great Deliverer who is by us! Like Peter, we look at the waves and billows, and are cast down ; but we forget the almighty arm that is stretched out for our support; and therefore, like him, we sink in our distress.
May God give us a more simple, humble, trusting faith, to shelter ourselves in the Lord, amidst the darkest storms of life; and to exclaim, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us."