2008-07-06 - Ruth: Naomi's Perspective
Installment 13 ~ Chapter 1, Part 8
Verses 19-21: Ruth commits to the Lord and Naomi. Naomi gives up any attempt to change Ruth's mind. So the two women continue the journey back to Judea. And when they arrive in Bethlehem, Naomi is immediately recognized. As she is greeted by old friends and acquaintances, it becomes clear how she feels about her present circumstances. Is she praising the Lord for Ruth's commitment to her and God? No! Instead, Naomi is still bemoaning her losses.
Naomi, which means "sweetness", has renamed herself Mara, meaning "bitter". She went away blessed and prosperous, a woman who seemed to have everything she needed. Now she returns home empty. She has nothing. She is angry. She is angry at God. She blames him for her circumstances. Do you think the blame is warranted? In one sense, she is correct. After all, God is in control of all things. She also recognized the fact that God blessed Israel for obedience, and judged them for disobedience. She had reason to believe that moving to Moab led to God's hand of judgment. With the death of the three men, this was a reasonable belief. But in the midst of her pain, she has forgotten two other truths: God loved her, and God didn't make mistakes. But these truths were something she still had to experience.
It is also worth remembering that Naomi was still grieving. She couldn't see any future, because she had not yet gotten over her loss. And in her grief, she was angry at God. But being angry at God can be a testimony of faith. She believed that He was involved in the circumstances of her life. She believed He could have intervened and prevented her losses. And both of these beliefs were true. But she wasn't yet able to recognize that God is concerned with the big picture of our life, not necessarily our immediate circumstances.
God was working behind the scenes of Naomi's life, for her benefit and Ruth's. While Naomi has renamed herself "bitter," God ends the section by still calling her Naomi. He isn't through with her yet. He had already worked through her, in touching and changing Ruth's life. He would continue to do so, but we have to come back next time to see how that happens.
To be continued.
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