My studies for Come, Follow Me this week took me to the book of Ruth and Samuel 1-3. The lesson was titled “My Heart Rejoiceth in the Lord” and was about the lives of Ruth, Naomi, Hannah, and other people. The lesson was introduced as follows:
Sometimes we imagine that our lives should follow a clear path from beginning to end. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, after all. And yet life is often full of delays and detours that take us in unexpected directions. We may find that our lives are quite different from what we thought they should be.
Ruth and Hannah surely understood this. Ruth was not an Israelite, but she married one, and when her husband died, she had a choice to make. Would she return to her family and her old, familiar life, or would she embrace the Israelite faith and a new home with her mother-in-law? (see Ruth 1:4-18).
Hannah’s plan for her life was to bear children, and her inability to do so left her “in bitterness of soul” (see 1 Samuel 1:1-10). As you read about Ruth and Hannah, consider the faith they must have had to put their lives in the Lord’s hands and travel their unexpected paths. Then you might think about your own journey. It will look different from Ruth’s and Hannah’s – and anyone else’s. But throughout the trials and surprises between here and your eternal destination, you can learn to say with Hannah, “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1).
The stories of Ruth and Hannah are different, but they both show the value of putting our faith in God. Ruth did not stop to wonder about what would happen in her life. She only knew that her mother-in-law Naomi needed her. She returned to return to her own family and people and told Naomi: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Like Ruth, Hannah had a problem, and she took it to the Lord. She pleaded with the Lord to give her a son. In return, she promised to give her son to the Lord. The Lord blessed Hannah with a son, and she named him Samuel. She kept him with her until he was weaned, and then she gave him to the Lord. Elaine S. Dalton taught the following about Ruth and Hannah:
Life’s journey sometimes takes us on unexpected paths. There are twists and turns in the road that none of us can anticipate. But with each of these twists and turns there is also opportunity – opportunity to choose our response and our plan of action. Difficulties in life can be opportunities to help us draw closer to the Savior and to trust in Him more fully. In the process of living close to Him each day, we develop Christlike attributes and qualities….
Like Ruth and Hannah, all of us will experience adversity. We may not always understand the Lord’s design for our lives, but it is my testimony that we are never alone. He is ever with us, and He promises us, “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation” [Doctrine and Covenants 58:3] (“Lessons from Ruth and Hannah,” Ensign, Apr. 2006, 35, 37).
The principle that I want to leave with you is that “We can rejoice in the Lord.” We do not know the twists and turns that our lives will take, but we are assured that God knows and will lead us along on the best paths if we put our trust in Him.