Crossroads: Caring for Others

Ruth 1:1-22

My Story
Several years ago, a powerful storm named Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana. Many homes were destroyed, and people lost their possessions, jobs, and even their homes. A few months after the storm, I had the opportunity to go with a group from our church to minister to the people in this area.

Our group saw so many people who were hurting. We met an elderly, blind man who was called “Brother Owens.” His home had been damaged by the storm, and our group spent a week working on his house. Brother Owens could not help us work because of his health and his eyesight, but every day he would gather us around him in his front yard and say a prayer for us. With tears in his eyes, each day he prayed: Now bless these people, Lord—these good people—who have come such a long way to help me. I thank you for them, Father. Please be with them, Amen.

I was blessed by Brother Owens and his daily prayers for me and our group. Maybe Ruth had this same kind of experience. I often wonder who is blessed more—the people who are cared for, or the ones who offer the care.

Your Story
Share with your family a time when you cared for someone else.
– What kind of help did this person need from you?
– Why did you decide to help?
– Did you think about not helping this person? Why or why not?
– How did you feel when you were providing this care? How did you feel later?
– Ask your children to share a time when they helped someone else. Ask them to describe how they felt when they cared for another person.

You could also share with your family a time when you did not help someone but later wished you had helped that person. Talk about why you decided not to help and how you felt about that decision.

The Bible Story
A young woman named Ruth married a nice man from a different country. Ruth moved to this new country to live with her husband and his family. They had a good life and loved each other very much. One day, however, the young man died unexpectedly, and Ruth was left with her husband’s mother, Naomi, whose husband had also just died. Ruth loved Naomi and wanted to stay with her, but Naomi told Ruth to go back to her own country and start a new life living with her family.

Ruth thought and prayed about what she should do. She knew that if she left, Naomi would be all alone. So instead of leaving Naomi by herself, Ruth decided to stay with Naomi to take care of her. Each day Ruth went out into the fields and picked up leftover grain so she and Naomi would have enough food to eat. Ruth cared for Naomi when Naomi had no one else to take care of her.

Discussion Questions
– Why would Ruth decide to stay with Naomi instead of go back to live with her (Ruth’s) own family?
– Which would have been easier—staying with Naomi or going to live with her own family?
– Why do some people choose to help others but others decide not to help other people?
– Are there any possible dangers in helping others? If so, what are some of those dangers?
– What would you have done if you were Ruth? Why?

Action
– Who do you know that needs someone to care for them? What could you do for them this week?
– Decide as a family what you can do this week to care for someone else. Make a commitment to take some caring action this week to care for that person.

Prayer
– Thank God for times in the past when you have been able to care for someone else in need and/or for the times when someone else has cared for you
– Ask God to bless your efforts caring for the person(s) you identified to care for this week
– Pray that God would open your eyes to opportunities to care for others

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