Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Embracing The Pain

The Bible mentions a tragic story of a woman named Naomi in Ruth chapter 1.  She and her family lived in Bethlehem.  However, due to a famine, she, her husband Elimelech and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, moved to the land of Moab.  While in Moab, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi a widow.  But her sons eventually married, perhaps easing some of Naomi's pain.  Their Moabite brides were named Ruth and Orpah.

Unfortunately, further unthinkable tragedy struck Naomi's family.  Both of her sons died, although the Bible doesn't mention the circumstances of their deaths.  Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law.  Upon Naomi's bidding, Orpah  returned back to her own people.  Yet, Ruth demonstrated uncanny allegiance to Naomi and opted to return with her to Bethlehem.

Apparently, there was quite a commotion when Naomi returned with Ruth to Bethlehem.  Naomi, whose name means, "pleasant", was quick to point out how life had changed dramatically with the death of her husband and sons since she left Bethlehem during the famine.  As a matter of fact, she no longer wanted to be called by her given name, Naomi, since life was definitely now "un-pleasant."  She felt that she should more appropriately called "Mara" which means "bitter."  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, 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).

I feel for Naomi.  Isn't that how some things work out in life?  You supposedly buy a great car (as least that is what the dealer said), yet it turns out to be a lemon.  You think you find a great job, but in time discover how stressful it is and you regret ever taking it.  You believe you have a marriage made in heaven but soon realize the prospects of living "happily ever after" are not possible.  In other words, at one time you felt ready to take on the world as life was "pleasant."  But unthinkable things occur (such as happened with the multiple deaths in Naomi's family).  Dreadfully, life has become bitter.

Yet, with Naomi, we are blessed to know the rest of the story.  Ruth eventually marries a man named Boaz.  They have a son named Obed who later has a son named Jesse, the father of King David.  So Ruth was the great grandmother of Israel's greatest king.  I guess you could say that Naomi was the great-great grandmother of David in a way.

But, when Naomi, returned back to Bethlehem, she couldn't see the future.  All she knew is that her pleasant life had become bitter.  Nothing wrong in recognizing how life is sometimes at its worst and to pray for deliverance.



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