“…and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.”
I absolutely love this phrase, which occurs in Ruth chapter 2. So far, if we’re honest, this story has been slightly less than delightful. Because there was a famine in Bethlehem (which literally means “house of bread”), a man named Elimelech (literally “God is my king”) brings his wife Naomi (“pleasant”) and their sons, Mahlon (“sickly”) and Chilion (“wasting away”) and travel to Moab (“nothingness”). So a man whose king is God takes his pleasant wife and their sickly, wasting away sons from the house of bread to nothingness to escape a famine. The sons marry two Moabite women: Ruth (“beauty”) and Orpah (“double-minded”). Pretty soon all the men die! Naomi, because of her bitter luck, changes her name from “pleasant” to Mara (“bitter”). She decides to head back to Bethlehem with her daughters-in-law but at the last minute Orpah changes her mind and stays in Moab. At this point, it’s just Ruth and Mara. Did I mention that all the men died? This is bad news in a society where a woman’s livelihood depended primarily on her husband or sons!
When the ladies return to Bethlehem, Ruth heads to the fields to pick up grains after the harvesters. Mara and Ruth are literally living off of crumbs at this point. But Ruth just so happens to go and pick grains in Boaz’s (“strength”) field. Boaz just so happens to be the one person who can marry her and “redeem” her from widow status. The rest is history with Boaz marrying Ruth, King David being born within a few generations, and, eventually, Jesus being born in the flesh through this very lineage. And it all took place because Ruth just so happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.
I can’t help but wonder how many things just so happen to occur in my life. How many of my coworkers do I just so happen to work with on a daily basis? How many of my neighbors do I just so happen to live within 100 yards of and see on a regular basis? The phrase “just so happened” is, of course, a literary device. It’s a subtle reminder that God is in complete control. God is in the details of our lives; orchestrating and developing our stories the same way a conductor directs a symphony.