The Purpose of a Story
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The Purpose of a Story
Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17
1 Kings 17:8-16
Have you ever wondered why some things are recorded in history and why some things or not? These are just some things that I oddly think about at times. What makes certain events and people special and others not so special? I believe that each story or recorded event that we read about is recorded for a specific purpose. For example, we read and learn about George Washington as our first president and the number one general in the revolutionary war against the British. This story is recorded for us with a purpose for us to understand the cost that was paid to live in a free country with a government elected by the people for the people. It is also to help us understand that keeping this freedom comes with a cost as well. However, we learn even more things about George Washington that may not be as important for the purpose of our country’s heritage but yet the story is still told any way because of the man who it is about.
I have often wondered why certain stories are told in the Bible as well. I have wondered what purpose they serve. We know and understand that they Bible is the inerrant Word of God and it has a message that is important for all of us to know. Now some may wonder why some sections in the book of Numbers needs to be there but I am sure it serves a purpose as well. The book of Ruth is one example that I have at times wondered why her and Naomi’s story is told. There was nothing really special about Naomi and nothing super special about ruth either. Ruth wasn’t even an Israelite. Naomi wasn’t some wealthy or special person as well. She was a widow and she also lost her sons which meant she really had nothing and no future in sight other than one of poverty. Yet for some reason their story makes its way into the biblical canon. And not only that, it is names after a woman who was not even an Israelite. This was a man’s world at the time and yet this Moabite woman gets special recognition.
I believe that the reason this story is recorded is for a specific purpose. Certainly, Ruth’s story is an example for women about living virtuously and certainly the story reveals God’s redemption and kindness towards his people. However, I believe that this story serves for an even greater purpose. It is a purpose that revealed only at the end of our story and that purpose has to do with a child and his offspring. Ruth and Boaz have a child and they name him Obed. The people deliver a blessing over Obed that he will become famous throughout the land of Israel. And the funny thing is that this is exactly what happened and the only reason why he is now famous even today is because of his offspring. Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of David, King of Israel. If Obed had not grandfathered David, then Ruth’s story would probably have been just some other story to us that serves no real purpose. However, with God there is purpose in everything. The purpose of David’s story is the history of Israel that leads to the most important story in the Bible and that is the story of Jesus.
Some time after the story of Ruth and the story of David we find another story and that is the story of Elijah. I find it interesting though that the story that our scripture for today reveals is continually foretold in our Holy Scriptures. I cannot help but notice that if it were under different circumstances the story of the poor widow and her son would never have been told. Many people in the land were unfortunately suffering from a famine brought on by the sins of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel as they led the people astray and towards sin as well. However, God provides for Elijah in this moment and at the same time he provides for this widow and her son who is double suffering due to this famine. She only has a handful of grain left to make a small morsel of bread for her and her son so that they may eat a final meal and then die of starvation afterwards. They have just accepted this as their fate as they saw no other hope in sight. However, God had other plans. He set this woman aside to feed and provide for Elijah as well out of what she has. When Elijah sees her and asks for food it seems that he is asking too much but the Lord declares according to Elijah that the flour and the oil she has left will not run out until after the famine ends. The Lord provides a miracle much like Jesus feeding the 5000 but only this time it is feeding 3 for a longer period of time with less in hand. In any other circumstance we would not know this woman’s story. However, it is in our Bible to serve a purpose. It is because God chose her to provide for Elijah the prophet that her story is remembered and told. There was nothing really special about her other than being chosen by God.
Hebrews tells us another story. It tells us the story actually. It tells us about Jesus our high priest who bore our sins upon himself. He died once for all of us and thankfully does not have to die again. We too will one day die and face judgment before the Lord. However, because we trust in Jesus and believe the story of the scriptures that he died and suffered in our place, we can then face the judgment and enter into communion with our creator in His kingdom. Hebrews tells us also the rest of the story that he will come once again to bring salvation to us who are waiting for him here.
All of these other stories that we read about in the scriptures serve a purpose. The main story and most important story in the Bible is the story of Jesus. So, because of that one may wonder why we need all of the other stories in Bible. What purpose do they serve if they are not the story of Jesus? However, remember when I said that every story has a purpose. All of the other stories prepare us and point us towards Jesus. They explain the history of the world from the beginning, they explain why we are in need of a savior, and they explain who that savior will be and how he will come into the world.
We all have our own story as well. Our story might not be recorded in the Bible in the same way that Ruth’s story is recorded. Our story might not be their like Elijah is recorded with the poor widow and her son who took care of him and fed him. However, our story also serves a purpose and that purpose points to Christ. I encourage you then not to be afraid to tell your story. Don’t ever let yourself believe that your story means nothing and is of little or no importance. Your story matters because your story is a gift from God and we can either use it to serve ourselves or we can use it to serve the Lord. Would you please tell your story to someone this week and after that will you listen to their story too? Because their story just like yours also has a purpose.