Naomi experienced great pain. She not only lost her relationship with her husband and sons, she also lost her financial security. In those days, there were no retirement benefits or Social Security. As women aged, they had to depend on family and friends to care for them. Strong sons were favored because they could work and provide for a family. Naomi’s lament reveals the depth of her pain. She felt God was judging her, and therefore her value was lost.
We often fall into the same way of thinking. In the midst of deep pain, we think God has forgotten us. As the story of Naomi reveals, the opposite is true. God loves us and never forgets us. He just works in ways we are not expecting. Naomi was expecting sons to provide for her. God gave her Ruth. Naomi’s friends told her Ruth was better than seven sons! God has a way of bringing joy out of pain in unusual ways.
For many years I felt like Naomi. The pain of my father dying when I was young, coupled with painful disappointments as a young woman, tempted me to think God did not really care for me. As I have matured, I have learned to appreciate God working in unexpected ways to show me his love. Through painful experiences, I have learned to have faith. God used my difficulties to bring me to Himself.
Thank you, God, for my painful circumstances, both past and present. Thank you for providing for me even when I do not understand what you are doing. Thank you for teaching me amazing lessons in faith as I trust you through my tears.
“’Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara,’ she answered, ‘for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I left full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has pronounced judgment on me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?’”
“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name be famous in Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’” Ruth 1:20-21; 4:14-15 HCSB
Further reading: Ruth 1-4