How do you define life and God during trying times?
We all, in different ways, face difficulties. Naomi and Ruth had theirs.
Oh, how these two women sat at the bedside of their loved ones – husbands, sons – caring faithfully and praying fervently. “Should I tilt your head upwards? Will you eat now? Please take something… so you can have the strength to fight this.”
On and on they went, till one day, each of these men died. What a painful blow!
The weeping, loss of appetite, uncertainty and bitterness that followed. Then the decision to return to Bethlehem Judah.
So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
Thank God for their perseverance during this long journey. From Moab to Bethlehem Judah is estimated to be about 30-60 miles, depending on the route taken. With rugged and steep terrain, Naomi and Ruth travelled about 7-10 days on foot.
And by the time they entered the town, bags on their shoulders, worn out faces, dusty clothes and shoes, dragging their legs behind, all eyes fixed on them.
Then one person… and another recognized the older lady. “Is this Naomi?” So much resemblance, but far from the beautiful woman we knew.
And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
Naomi changed her name from “Pleasant one” to “Bitter”. Not just that, she accused God of afflicting her.
So much like what most people do when faced with life’s difficulties. We label ourselves failures. And feel God has forsaken and failed us.
Life’s problems should not define us. Don’t put on an identity based on what happens to you. You are who God says you are, not what challenges heap on you.
Also, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. (James 1:13)
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
God doesn’t throw problems and difficulties on people. You remember how Naomi got into this mess – travelling to a strange land, Moab. What if they stayed back and cried out to God for mercy and blessings? He will answer and heal their land, as He promised.
The Devil is the architect of problems. Sin makes room for him to come in and afflict people. Sometimes, like with Job, it might not be a sin. It could be a trial of faith.
But just like Job held on to his faith in God, hold on. Keep praying. And trusting.
Your bitter waters will be made sweet.
The last verse of Ruth chapter 1 signal the better days ahead –
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
The famine had ended. It’s harvest time. Naomi arrived right in time.
As we go on in the study, you’ll see God’s providence and redemption at work.
And beyond reading about Naomi and Ruth’s story, you will experience Harvest. Great harvest in every area of your life experiencing famine.
But, as we discussed in the earlier part of this study, you must first arise and return.
Leave the land and lifestyle of Moab and return to Bethlehem Judah, dear sister.
And watch how the beauty of life unfolds before you.
That which is bitter to endure may be sweet to remember. ~ Thomas Fuller
As you pour out your bitterness, God pours in His peace. ~ F B Meyer