September 3, 2017
READ: Ruth 1:1-21
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty” (vv.20-21).
My friend was overjoyed. Following years of failed procedures, she was going to give birth to a daughter. With only weeks to go, however, my friend discovered her husband was having an affair. The weight of pain threatened to drown all hope of happiness.
Today, by God’s grace, the two are still together. They’ve lived through heartache and experienced the power of repentance, forgiveness and healing. Almost a decade later, their marriage is stronger than before.
Most of us have been through challenging times and our attitude in the midst of these moments has shaped who we’ve become—bitter or better.
Naomi became bitter. Her name actually means “pleasantness”, but that was before life left her feeling broken. Not only was she forced to flee to Moab to escape famine in her hometown, but, after settling there, her husband Elimelech died. This left her alone to raise two sons in a foreign land. Her sons, Mahlon and Kilion, both married Moabite women, but ten years later they also died (Ruth 1:1-5).
When she learned that the famine in Bethlehem was over, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned home. Although people greeted her as Naomi, that isn’t how she felt. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty” (vv.20-21). God was working in Naomi’s heart, however, and He used the unwavering devotion of Ruth to restore her true identity (4:13-17).
In the midst of the many challenges of life, may we too know the kindness of our heavenly Father, leading us to leave our bitterness behind as we rest in His presence. By God’s grace, we can find hope and a better way in Him!
365-day-plan: Matthew 22:1-14
Read Hebrews 12:15 and consider the author’s instructions for whom to “look after” and for what to “watch out”.
What circumstances have left you wounded and in danger of developing a hard heart? What good has come from a recent challenging situation and what are you now grateful for as you reflect on it?