She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?"
Life circumstances can be hard. That is the case with Naomi. She is in pain. She is emotionally and spiritually wasted. She is worn out and tired, filled with the bitter sorrow of constant loss. It began with a famine. It is now at this point in her story consumed with an emptiness she cannot contain inside any longer.
Her story started with a forced relocation. Famine in Israel led Naomi and her husband Elimelech to move from Bethlehem in Israel to the country of Moab. There they sought a new life where at least they could find food. While in Moab, there was a period of continued trial. Elimelech dies there. Still, Naomi finds some blessing in her sons who marry Moabite wives. But then, before those new marriages are even blessed with children, both sons died, leaving Naomi in the worst of situations: she is a widow with no adult children to help support her. It is then that she hears that famine is over in Bethlehem. She decides to return home, and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, tenaciously chooses to follow in care for this tired, broken, and wounded woman. God would use this least likely of relationships to bring restoration to Naomi. But it would involve an equally bizarre set of sovereign plot twists.
The book of Ruth is really about Naomi. She is the person who is transformed by the sovereign grace of God. We see her now filled with only the pain and heartache of unfathomable personal loss. She is defined by her pain and can only talk about her life in those prospects. She is drowning in a cold river of bitter tears. Even as she has returned "home" to Bethlehem, it is a return devoid of joy. She is a widow and a grieving mother. And it is this pain that God longs to heal in her. He does not turn His back on her bitterness. Instead, He quietly cares for her to transform her circumstances and her heart. It is beautiful to see not just Ruth find a husband, but Naomi find that God will capture her heart again!
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13