Matthew 1:5-6 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David. When I think about life in general, I always remember the words of Rick Warren, one of the most influential pastors in the world today and the author of the best-selling and life-changing book “The Purpose Driven Life.” He described life not as “hills and valleys” but as a railroad track. The rails are like the good and bad things in life. They always come together. The way we respond to life’s circumstances whether good or bad will define us, our character and our faith. We face individual challenges here on earth. Each of us carries our cross. These trials can predict the outcome of the story of our lives. Some challenges may seem easy to others, but to the person who is dealing with the problem, it may be enough reason for him/her to give up, and forget his/her dreams. Others might consider it enough reason to take their own lives. That’s a tragedy right there. We don’t want any part of that. In times of struggles, remember that God’s ending for our story is bigger and brighter than what we could ever imagine. We should bear in mind that these hard times will pass and the days ahead will be better. Even if challenges arise, we can still expect good things because they make us stronger. The people mentioned in the verses above faced extreme adversities but continued to believe in God despite their struggles. Let’s start with Ruth and Naomi. Ruth is a Moabite who got married to one of Israel’s sons. She became the daughter-in-law of Naomi who encountered great strife in her life. Naomi felt so much pain that it made her believe that God cursed her. She said in Ruth 1:20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Indeed these two women experienced hard times. Naomi’s husband and her two sons died. One of Naomi’s sons was Ruth’s husband. Aside from being widowed they also suffered from poverty. Ruth just went to fields and picked leftover grain so that they could have something to eat. The twist of the story is that this poverty led them back to Jerusalem, which was where God’s plan for their lives would come into place. According to Ruth 2:3, ”So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.” The words “as it turned out” emphasised that Ruth never intended to go to Boaz’s fields. It just happened. Since she needed to pick leftover grain which was already her routine, she just went to this random field for no significant reason. Ruth 2:4-5 “4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered. 5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” At the beginning of verse 4, we can see the words “just then” which highlighted that Boaz did not plan to see Ruth that day. It just happened as well. Who would have thought that these two star-crossed lovers would meet and fall in love on that one sweet fateful day? God’s grand design in their lives came to place. They did not plan it. It just happened. The story of Ruth shows that Boaz was a very successful man. Aside from being rich, the book of Ruth says that Boaz is also a righteous man with very high regard for the law. You know what makes the story of Boaz special? His mother Rahab was a prostitute. Joshua 2:1 says “Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” How difficult must it be to live as a son of a prostitute? Not to mention that during those times, people who commit adultery were stoned to death. Despite being a prostitute's son, Boaz was still able to follow God’s laws, and in return, God rewarded him with wealth, and the love of his life. Rahab also received her reward from God. She was the one who saved the spies that Joshua sent from the soldiers of Jericho, and in return, she requested that the army of Joshua spare her family from being killed during the invasion. Joshua 6:25 says “But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.” Her only request was for her family to be saved, but God gave her so much more. God made his son Boaz wealthy and wise. Going back to Naomi, she also had her share of the happy ending. Ruth 4:16-17 says “Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David." Naomi took care of Ruth and Boaz’s child and loved the boy liked his son. Ruth, Naomi, Boaz and Rahab received their blessings in their lifetimes because they all did something in common, they all trusted and believed in God. Ruth 1:16 says, But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. “ Joshua 2:11 shows Rahab speaking about God, ”When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” These people put their faith in the power of God, and He gave them more than what they wished. Naomi and Ruth just wanted food, but God also gave them love. Rahab wanted safety, but God also added prosperity. But you know what? God was still not done. The greatest reward that God had given them was the honour of being a part of the lineage of Christ. I believe that none of them ever expected that they would be the ancestors of the Messiah. Who would have thought that God will use a Moabite who was treated like a dog and a prostitute to be a part of Christ’s lineage? If God’s ultimate plan was made known to them, it could have blown their minds. If we want to end up with our own happily ever after, we should start believing in what God can do in our lives. Take time to read the word and pray so that you will know about His plans for you. Our current circumstances will not predict the end of our story; God is still in the process of writing it.