But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21, NKJV)
A friend is dealing with some tough issues right now. There is pain, sorrow, and many questions but few answers. Life blindsides us sometimes, and we find ourselves on an emotional rollercoaster as we try to figure out what is happening. Ever been there? So what do we do when life hurts—really, really hurts?
The Book of Ruth is a small Old Testament book with a “happy ever after” love story. But there is so much more to the story before we get to the happy-ever-after ending. We find hardship, leaving the familiar, sickness and death, weighty decisions, and more leavings.
Life had dealt some heavy things to Naomi. She was away from her homeland, widowed, and had lost both sons to death as well. It was time to return home to friends and family. She must have been a wonderful mother-in-law as both daughters-in-law decided to go with her, even as she tried to dissuade them. Orpah finally turned back, but Ruth would not.
Returning to Bethlehem must have been bittersweet for Naomi. Yes, she was home again, but she had lost so much in the intervening years. As the townspeople greeted her, she told them, “Do not call me Naomi (“my delight”) but call me Mara (“bitterness”). I’m so glad the story did not end there. Although she felt empty and afflicted by God, He had so much more in store for her in the days ahead.
By the time we reach the end of chapter 4 in the Book of Ruth, we find Naomi holding a precious grandson. No one calls her Mara (bitter) for she is truly a blessed and “delighted” woman. Although she could not see God’s hand at work during those difficult years in Moab, He never left her alone. As the despairing Naomi trudged home from Moab, she never imagined she would one day be the great-grandmother of King David, a man after God’s own heart.
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” (Ruth 4:14-15, NKJV)
the trust factor
When life pulls us into a whirlwind, it’s sometimes difficult to trust that God is in control of our life. Trouble will come to each of us, and bitterness may threaten to creep into our hearts. Our trials may seem to last for years, as Naomi’s did, but God is not absent. Remember, our hope reaches beyond this life and the problems it may bring. Keep praying, keep believing, and hold fast. God delights in you and a new day is coming. There really is a happy ever after.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV)