He Is Good
Ruth 1:19-21 NKJV
19 …And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
20 But 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, 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?”
Naomi left Bethlehem with her husband and two sons to escape the famine. They went to Moab, a pagan land. There, she lost her husband and two sons. After ten years in Moab, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with one of her Moabite daughters-in-law, Ruth.
At this point, Naomi is one very bitter woman. She must have loved her husband and two sons very much. Her family must have meant the world to her. Now that she has lost them, she seems to have lost all her hope. She does not see what good can now take place in her life and her family. All seems to be lost. She is overwhelmed with bitterness at her condition. And she blames God for all the affliction and suffering she is in.
Bitterness and blame are two sure ways to cause our faith go spiraling southward. Naomi is so embittered that she cannot even bear to be called the name she has been called by, which means pleasant and delightful. She wants to be called “Mara”, which means bitter.
Bitterness and blame have blocked Naomi from seeing that she has not returned to Bethlehem empty. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, has clung to her and pledged her loyalty to her, her people and her God.
In fact, the person Naomi returns to Bethlehem with, is a new convert, a new believer. When Ruth professes to Naomi in Ruth 1:16, “…Your people will be my people, your God will be my God”, Ruth has said the equivalent of what we today call “the sinner’s prayer”. She has accepted the Almighty Lord as her God. During the time that Naomi and Ruth lived together, Naomi must have had Godly influence on Ruth that caused her to come to believe in Naomi’s God. But as Naomi returns home with Ruth, Naomi is so filled with bitterness that she does not recognize the joy of salvation that Ruth has received. Naomi is so grieved by the loss of her beloved husband and sons that she cannot see that God has used her to win one precious soul for His Kingdom.
Bitterness and blame put us in dark and dangerous place where we dwell in our hopelessness, not able to see God’s mercy at work in our life, and not believing that God’s grace can still make a way for us.
It is by the grace and power of God that the famine in Bethlehem has stopped and this opens the way Naomi to return home. God has been merciful to Naomi. She is not returning to Bethlehem empty. She has Ruth, a devoted daughter-in-law by her side. And Ruth, she is going to be the one who helps Naomi to once again experience the goodness of God. Ruth is the one whom God is going to use to redeem all that Naomi has lost. Ruth is going to meet with and marry Boaz, a close relation of Naomi’s husband. A child is going to be conceived through this marriage, carrying on Naomi’s husband’s family line which she thought had been cut off when she lost her husband and two sons.
Pause for a moment and consider what God is saying to you today. Is there bitterness that is blocking you from seeing God’s Hand of mercy upon you? Is there blame that is hardening your heart from receiving the love and hope found in Christ?
The Bible tells us in Ruth 1:22 that Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem “at the beginning of barley harvest”. I believe God wants to assure and encourage you today that right where you are, if you would only be still and know that He is Lord, you will see that a ray of hope has shone in your darkness, a harvest has already begun in your place of barrenness. Be still and know He is Lord.
Let us pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and mercy that reach out to me wherever I am, even when my heart is hardened against You. I surrender to You all pain and bitterness I am feeling, O Lord. Let Your Spirit and Your presence come and renew and refresh me all over again. Let my soul never forget You are my Good and Faithful God Who sees me through all seasons of my life. I thank You for the people You have placed around me to support and help me, and I know, Father, this is for me to be a stronger person so that I may continue to walk steadfastly in Your path, to serve You and to advance Your Kingdom. I worship You, O Father. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.