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“19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ 20 She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 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?’”
Man, Naomi had been through it. She had buried her husband, lost two sons, and said goodbye to a daughter-in-law. Her hopes were shattered. She had no provision, no hopes of grandchildren, and had to return home with all eyes on her and her griefs. Have you ever been in a place where you “can’t even” anymore. That point where you just feel like you could not handle anymore or you are going to completely break? I have, and it’s tough to claw our way back sometimes.
I have lost all my grandparents, a niece, and my mom all by the age eighteen. I have experienced three miscarriages in a span of nine months. There are times where I think I just can’t handle anymore loss or disappointment in my life. Times where I feel I have hit the bottom of the bottom.
This is where I picture Naomi. “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara…” She’s literally changing her name from Naomi, pleasant, to Mara, bitter. She is so empty and bitter here that she can’t go on as the same person.
But isn’t that what our tragedies do? They change us. We go through the trenches and God helps us come out a different and better person with an even greater ministry than before. We hit so low sometimes we can’t see out of the pit of darkness, but God can.
What is so amazing about Naomi through this is she never renounced her faith. She believed her God was faithful and sovereign even in the midst of her tragedy. If you keep reading a little further into chapter 2, Naomi trusted herself and her daughter-in-law to God, “Go ahead, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2). Yet, this doesn’t mean she didn’t have a hard time seeing past her circumstances. The hand had been dealt and she believed with her head that God was sovereign but she was so weary it was difficult for her to believe it with her heart. She couldn’t see her life being filled up after everything she had been through. She couldn’t imagine how all this bitterness could turn into beauty, how her daughter-in-law would marry and give birth to a son (Ruth 4:13-17), but our God could. Because of Naomi’s faithfulness and instruction to Ruth, Ruth goes on to marry Boaz and give birth to a son named Obed. Little did Naomi and Ruth know, but Obed would become the grandfather to King David, which is in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ. So without Naomi and her faithfulness there is no Jesus. Her story was used for literally the greatest good. She had tremendous impact on Ruth and her impact is felt by al of us.
When we want that name change, and to give up and stay bitter and angry remember He calls us Blessed (Ephesians 1:3), Redeemed (Romans 3:24), Beloved (Romans 5:8), and Free (Galatians 5:1). These names hold true through our circumstances because our God is mighty in affliction, He is just, and he perfects us in our weakness. He holds you in His arms when you are hurting the same way you hold and comfort your kids when they are hurting.
“Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!” (Ruth 4:14)
Circumstances may change but our God doesn’t, He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don’t need to waste our time throwing the stones towards Heaven but instead run into His arms, trusting that He will be with us, and that He will redeem us, even through this.
We are not named by our circumstances, we are named by our God.
With Grace and Gumption,