This week’s text we meet two women, Naomi and Ruth. We are told they are both widowed, and Naomi has also lost her two sons. There are no children or grandchildren to bring them comfort. Naomi’s family were environmental refugees in the land of Moab. There she witnessed her sons marrying local women, her husband dying and then her two sons died. Now she is left with the responsibility of caring for her two daughters-in-law.
She decides to return to her home in Israel, but obviously her daughters-in-law will not be welcomed there. She releases them from their obligations to her, sending them back to their mother’s house. Except, Ruth remains. Sunday will focus on Ruth.
But think today about Naomi. When she returns to Bethlehem, she has changed, people do not recognize her, and she takes a new name with her changed identity. She is Mara. Naomi means “pleasant,” and Mara means “bitter (see Exodus 15:23).” She had gone out full but came back empty. Life or the Almighty had afflicted her, and she was bitter.
When have you found yourself in that situation? You thought you were going after the better life but did not seek the will of God for your life. You thought you were smarter than others around you but only fell flat on your face. You have come to the conclusion of the experience only to wind up empty, desolate, and bitter. This is the story of Naomi, and through the book of Ruth God brings here back to joy. Find that at the end of the book, Ruth 4.