I love the book of Ruth. It is the book of encouragement. And talk about strong female characters--Ruth has two of the best.
Not much is known about Naomi, but that she is in a tough time of her life:
"Don't call me Naomi," she responded. "Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me." Ruth 1:20
(Naomi means "pleasant; Mara means "bitter,")
Naomi has recently lost her husband and her two sons also leaving her two daughters-in-law widowed. Naomi told the two girls to go home and live with their own families. Orpah did as her Mother-in-law said, but Ruth refused and determined to follow Naomi.
"But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live; Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God." Ruth 1:6
We don't know specifics about Naomi's life before her tragedies, but it must have been profound. We can conclude that Naomi cared for and loved her family very much. And that she followed God faithfully. Ruth was drawn to Naomi and to God. That in itself is a powerful witness.
The thing I never really realized about the story of Ruth is the culture surrounding the land at the time. It was during the time of Judges, which was a widely violent, idolatry and disobedient time. Despite all of these distractions Naomi, Ruth and their families faithfully followed God. It proves that God is looking out for those who love him even when they are surrounded by despair. This is something that reading the bible straight through helped me realize; a really wonderful exercise.
Ruth continues to follow God and the wisdom of her mother-in-law. Ruth meets and eventually marries Boaz who have children, much to Naomi's delight.
God will use anyone who is faithful to Him to complete His will. Ruth was a Moabite and Boaz was the descendant of a Prostitute. However, they are the great-grandparents of David, the greatest King of Israel, and ancestors to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Even in times of turmoil, God is at work. He can use anyone and if we let him, He can turn our tragedies into triumphs.