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“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?” (Ruth 1:20, 21 NLT)
Sometimes we feel exactly the way Naomi felt, bitter and empty. The decision Elimelech (Naomi’s husband) made was to preserve the family from famine but it ended with his death and the early death of his two sons. Hence, Naomi was left with one daughter-in-law and no posterity–“I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty.”
For the fatalistic, this is Naomi’s fate–it is the end. But for the hopeful, it is not the end yet. Is it?
We can gather two comforting thoughts from this event.
Firstly, although Naomi returned home empty, that is, without her husband and sons, she gained a daughter-in-law, Ruth.
A Moabite – was she a gain? Little did Naomi realize that Ruth would make a major contribution in restoring joy to her life. As a reader, we have the full story that Naomi didn’t have. We can see how the story unfolded, how a rich farmer, Boaz, was attracted to Ruth and eventually married her and begot posterity for Naomi’s deceased husband.
Similarly, when we go through crisis we may not see beyond our problem. We may even be as bitter as Naomi was. Take courage, put your trust in the God who sees the future. If only Naomi had the foresight of God, she would not have been so bitter. She would have known that through the posterity of Ruth and Boaz, came David, the greatest king of Israel and Jesus, the Son of God.
Secondly, Naomi’s language betrayed her hopelessness. She said, “the Lord who brought me home”, meaning, she blamed the Lord was with her. The Lord brought Naomi home, to her familiar surroundings, to her community and to her relatives and friends. I believe that when she returned to her familiar surroundings, there was a great sense of relief.
God was in the picture all the time. The story of Naomi and Ruth is a story of God using a Gentile woman to bring about blessings to a Jewish woman, the Jewish nation and eventually to all nations through the person of Jesus Christ. Who could had known that an insignificant woman and event could be a part of God’s great story?
So, when we go through difficult times, know that God is in the picture the whole time. The story of God doesn’t end in our life time. Our stories are parts of God’s story. God will bring about a happy ending for Himself and all believers. Just trust Him.