14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. ~ Ruth 1: 14-17
Ruth was determined. She felt the pain of her mother in law, and chose to remain with her even though she had no clue what their future would look like. We often read so much about Ruth, and her commitment, but very little is written about Naomi. Can you imagine what Naomi must have been going through in that moment? Her whole family was gone. In a span of a few years, she lost her husband and children. She was so distraught that when she returned to Bethlehem, she changed her name from Naomi (which means pleasant) to Mara (which means bitter).
20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” ~ Ruth 1:20-21
In her grief, it was difficult for Naomi to look past her pain and trust in God’s faithfulness. Naomi was so weighed down with pain and grief that she could not see anything pleasant in her life. In Esther’s post on Monday, she addressed how the Israelites often forgot the goodness of our great God and how quick they were to turn away or speak against Him. How often is this true in our life? Naomi had every reason to be upset and feel alone. She felt as if God had dealt bitterly with her and as a woman in pain, she had a difficult time looking past this.
Have you ever been so weighed down by the circumstances in your life, that it made it difficult for you to trust in God? I know that there have been many times in my life where it has been hard for me to see that the Lord is still with me, caring for my needs every step of the way. In those times, I relied heavily on my faith to carry me through those difficult times. His Word is our guide when we face trials and struggles in life.
19 For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? 20 You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. 21 May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me. ~Psalms 72:19-21
Naomi’s life was a life of hope and of grace. God showed His favor on Naomi and Ruth and provided them with their daily provisions. Naomi’s story is an example for all of us try and focus on God rather than our circumstances. It is easy to get weighed down and feel abandoned, which is why it is important for us to keep our focus on Him. Look to Him for comfort and strength, and in doing that, we can trust in His promises.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2