“Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, and said goodbye.” Ruth 1:14
When we read the story of Ruth, Orpah, and Naomi we normally tend to focus in on Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi and return to Moab with her. We glorify her decision, and teach this lesson as an example of sticking it out with people for better or for worse. And don’t get me wrong, Ruth was surely following God’s will by staying with Naomi. Through this, God used her to bring about His son into the world. But what about Orpah. Orpah also set out on this journey to Moab, but Orpah turned around, and went home before reaching Moab. What does this mean? Was Orpah wrong to go back? Did God maybe want her to go with Naomi too? Did He have great plans for her in Moab? I don’t know, but I do know that her leaving did nothing to harm the plan God had for Ruth and Naomi’s lives.
And because of this, I know that the people who leave me on the way, and the people who leave you on the way, or not going to take anything away from the great plan God has for us. They are not going to leave us lacking anything essential for our journey. Because the Lord is a provider.
But it still hurts when people leave. Especially when they leave with no warning or explanation. We find ourselves standing there, alone, right where they used to be standing. Standing there in that place of solitude, the questions are unavoidable. We question if we did something wrong, or maybe could have done something better. We wonder if they regret leaving, if they ever will come back, or if somehow they have already forgotten that they were suppose to be here still. Sometimes the questions take on the face of bitterness. We ask ourselves how anyone could treat us that way, how they could leave in such an abrupt manner without any form of reasoning. We are hurt. We are betrayed. We are confused. Not only do we have to answer these questions ourselves, but we have to face the same questions from those around us; they’re wondering the same things we are, and somehow expect us to have the answers. But we don’t. Because all we know is that they left.
But that’s ok.
It’s ok that they left, and it is even ok that we don’t have the answers as to why. God is not taken off guard by the unreliability of those around us. He is not baffled at inconsistencies. And He is not shaken by abandonment like we are.He is all-knowing, all understanding. He is a firm, constant, and reliable source. He sends what we need, when we need it, and for how long we need it. We may be thrown off balance when people leave us, but God isn’t, and He is standing right beside us, right in the same place we were betrayed. He nudges us onward. He reminds us that it is in Him we find our source of strength, our hope, our joy, and our identify. Not only is He not leaving our side, but just as He let Naomi keep Ruth for her journey back home, He will give us the people we need in our lives too.
I know it hurts when people leave, but it hurts even more trying to hold on to what is already gone. Release those who have left you. Release them, and don’t cultivate hatred to them. God is bigger than what they have done to you. Their mistake does’t have to result in your bitterness.