Just read through the book of Ruth again this morning. I LOVE this book. Not because of the romance between Ruth and Boaz, but because of the real main character, Naomi.
Naomi follows her husband to a foreign land. There, her husband and her two sons die. A widow, childless, with two dependent daughters-in-law, destitute, living in a foreign country, with no real hope for circumstances to improve. Man, this life is so very, very difficult sometimes. Emotionally, physically, mentally.
Hearing that living conditions have improved back in her homeland, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth travel back to Bethlehem. Chapter 1 tells us that when Naomi finally trudged into town, the whole community was stirred. "Is this Naomi?" they asked. Old acquaintances barely recognized her. Grief, hardship, and poverty had aged and worn her into a very different woman from the Naomi they had last seen.
"Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty...the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me," Naomi answers their incredulous looks.
Ever been there? Ever felt like this broken woman, laying it all out plainly on the table? I have. That's how I feel this morning. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty... Empty, broken, little hope for things to improve.
But Naomi, even in her distress, encourages me. The LORD has brought me back empty. She's saying, from the lowest and hardest of places, that God is sovereign over all the affairs of life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. This present distress, this being ground into powder, even this is God working out His good purposes in me.
Naomi is no health-wealth-&-prosperity theologian. She doesn't sugar coat the heartbreak of life in a fallen world. But neither does she shrink from the truth that God is in control. She faces hard questions - and comes away with rock-solid answers.
You know the end of the story. Naomi - widowed, poor, old-beyond-childbearing - has a son. She is blessed and filled beyond her ability to imagine.
Appropriate that she should name the child Obed...worshipper.
1 month ago