The Explosive Power of Faithfulness

What do we do when all hope seems lost?
When evil seems to be winning? 
When corruption is the norm? 
When chaos and conflict surround us?

What is our hope?

It’s easy to feel hopeless about this world we live in. There’s division in our churches. There’s the ever-deteriorating morality of our culture. There’s war and destruction in Europe. Increasing rates of suicide and anxiety and depression. Unceasing bickering between Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, this Christian blogger and that one, this viewpoint and that viewpoint.

When the world around us seems beyond repair and when the problems feel too big to solve, we tend to fall into one of two ditches. The first ditch is despair and detachment. We just give up on this present world with an “oh well,” and set our sights on heaven. Figuring there’s nothing we can do anyway, we withdraw into our private lives and shield ourselves from the world in our little Christian bubbles.

The other ditch is fight-fire-with-fire. We can’t just stand idly by and watch things go from bad to worse. We care about this present world and deeply desire to see change—as we should. Since the problems seem so big, we try to respond in big ways. We look for visible solutions with the potential for big effects. We either create our own big solution or pick someone else’s big solution and evangelize it like our lives depend on it. How else can we make a dent in the surmounting problems of our day?

Then sometimes we bounce back and forth between these two positions. We may start by trying to make a big difference, but become tired just managing our own little lives. And so we retreat to detachment, not out of preference, but out of survival. Or we start small, but later get caught up in a big solution being championed by others.

But these are not the only ways to respond. There is another option—one that doesn’t require indifference or intensity. Instead it requires consistent obedience for an extended period of time. It’s the way of faithfulness.

Faithfulness Is God’s Plan A

The way of faithfulness is often God’s plan A in times of intense turmoil. Look at the Book of Judges for example. No other book in the Bible can match its quick descent into immorality and chaos. It begins on the heels of a massive victory—Israel has just moved into the Promised Land! You know, the land flowing with milk and honey that God has been promising since the days of Abraham. But in chapter 2, things are already headed downhill. 

By the time we get to the last few chapters of Judges, we’re introduced to some of the most gruesome chapters in the whole of Scripture. An Israelite woman is abused and killed by her own people in a scene that is more horrendous than Sodom and Gomorrah. The Israelites have mixed their worship of God with idolatry. There is a civil war in Israel, almost wiping out an entire tribe. It’s painful and shocking.

Reading Judges could leave us feeling . . . hopeless. What hope is there for the Israelites? Can they recover from this? The problems feel too big. Too bad. Too complex.

And then we turn the page to the book of Ruth and find that it opens this way: “During the time of the judges . . . ” (Ruth 1:1).

The book of Ruth does not happen in isolation. It is not separate from the cringe-worthy events in Judges. It happens during these events. In the middle of the downward spiral of Israel’s idolatry and immorality we find hope in a young, immigrant widow from the despised land of Moab.

Hope amidst Chaos

Because of Ruth’s actions, hope is restored to Israel as she becomes mother to Obed, the grandfather of King David. David—the man after God’s own heart who ushers in a golden time in Israel’s history. David—the man who wrote most of our Psalms. David—the man who foreshadows the coming of our perfect King Jesus. Amidst the chaos and cruelty, there is hope for Israel, and it is ushered in through Ruth and her great-grandson, King David.

But what exactly did Ruth do? Well, let me give you a list:

  • She repented of her own idolatry, choosing to worship the God of Israel instead of the idols she grew up worshiping (Ruth 1:16).
  • She volunteered to serve her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:2).
  • She worked hard doing manual labor, gathering grain all day, for the entire season of harvest (Ruth 2:17, 23).
  • She submitted to the wishes of her mother-in-law (Ruth 3:6).

These don’t seem like world-changing behaviors. Repentance. Submission. Voluntary service. The hard work of manual labor. But that’s exactly what these actions were: world-changing, kingdom-altering, hope-giving. Ruth, whether she knew it or not, directly opposed the work of sin and Satan in her repentance and simple obedience. 

Don’t underestimate the power of repentance and simple obedience. They are missiles in the hands of God, with the power to obliterate the kingdom of darkness. 

Push Back the Darkness

You don’t need to despair that this world is broken and there’s nothing you can do. You don’t need to work hard to make a big splash to see change. There is another way to push back the darkness and it starts in the quietness of your own bedroom as you repent of your sins and idolatry. And then it moves from your bedroom to your living room, neighborhood, and office as you serve those you live with and work with. And it continues as you pursue humility, submitting to others instead of serving yourself.

You won’t see the change immediately. You won’t know just how much your actions matter. This is the path of faithfulness, and it requires faith. Ruth likely never knew just how impactful and far-reaching the ripples of her faithfulness were. But as we look back, we know that she ushered in hope, not just for her generation, but for countless generations after her. 

Don’t despair. Don’t believe that bigger is better. Be a Ruth. Repent. Serve. Work hard in your daily, ordinary life. Be faithful. And remember that faithfulness is more powerful against the kingdom of darkness than you could ever imagine, because the faithful look to God, not themselves, as the hero.

Won’t you join me in pushing back the darkness today? Let’s repent and serve with our eyes set on Jesus!

Want to hear more from Kelly Needham and Revive Our Hearts? Join Kelly and thousands of women at True Woman ’22 in Indianapolis, September 22–24, where Kelly will speak at two breakout sessions! Register today at

About the Author

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham teaches the Bible at her home church where she co-leads a Women’s Teaching Program, training women to accurately handle the word of truth. She is the author of Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion and … read more …

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