I'm currently doing a Bible study with some of the ladies in my church. It's called, God Does His Best Work with Empty by Nancy Guthrie.
Today, for part of the reading, the study guide directed me to read through the book of Ruth, paying careful attention to the theme of loss and emptiness. If you're familiar with the story of Ruth, then you'll know that it begins with Naomi, who, because of a famine in Judah, travels to the country of Moab with her husband. They settle there, and she has two boys, who grow up and then marry two women from Moab. In the course of things, Naomi's husband dies, and then later her two sons.
In that culture, to lose the men of your family would have been devastating. Aside from the personal grief of losing your closest relatives, a woman without the "protection of a man" was in an extremely vulnerable position. I can't imagine the fear and grief that must have consumed Naomi. That poor woman.
Upon hearing that things have gotten better in Judah, she decides to pack up and go back to her hometown. Both her daughter's-in-law offer to go with her, which is telling. Naomi must have been a remarkable woman for these two young widows to offer to uproot themselves to go to a foreign land with their mother-in-law. Totally not the typical relationship trope of daughters-in-law to mother-in-law!
Naomi tries to convince the two women to return to their family homes, and eventually, one of them agrees. Ruth, however, refuses to go, citing one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture:
Or to turn back from following after you.
For wherever you go, I will go:
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people will be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."