The U.S. presidential inauguration introduced a new voice, as twenty-two-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman inspired a fitful nation with her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” on January 20, 2021.
Her final hope-filled lines stuck with me:
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
History is full of ezer-warriors “brave enough to be” light in their time and place. The Bible frequently highlights women (often very young) who confront the challenges of the moment to bring light and hope to others.
I think of Ruth.
Marriage to Naomi’s son swept Ruth into Naomi’s tsunami of suffering. Naomi was a famine refugee and a widow. By the time the dust settled both women had plummeted to the bottom of ancient society. Both were childless widows. Post-menopausal Naomi and barren Ruth had no future. Ruth was about Amanda Gorman’s age when she faced the hardest decision of her life. Yet instead of abandoning Naomi, Ruth chose a dark, foreboding future in Bethlehem by embracing Naomi, her people, and her God.
That changed everything.
Ruth took refuge under God’s wing and, from that place of blazing light, drew courage to do whatever Naomi needed. From that moment, she refused to hold back or shrink from bravely making bold initiatives to a powerful man—all on Naomi’s behalf. She ignored cultural boundaries limiting her as an immigrant, an impoverished widow, and a scavenger for food to bring light and renewed hope to Naomi.
Ruth never knew God was advancing his purposes for the world through her brave, selfless love for Naomi.
Her story reminds us never to underestimate how God might multiply our smallest act of kindness, encouraging word, or helping hand. We should all be asking, “If Ruth, why not me?” May God help us to be “brave enough” to bring the light of hope to others.
*For deeper reflection, listen to Ruth 1.