I have been heavy hearted and praying for someone that is very dear to me as she is struggling with discouragement, depression, and even leaning towards bitterness. In my prayer for her the Lord brought the book of Ruth to my mind. I began to think of Naomi who suffered through financial reversal that caused her to leave her home land. She then lost her husband, and both of her sons!
Naomi was so distraught she didn’t even want people to call her by her given name which means “pleasantness;” and requested that people instead call her Mara which means “bitter.” On one hand I can understand why she felt that way, but as a Christian we know that the bitterness she felt could do nothing to help or heal her broken heart – she probably didn’t really want to be healed, she wanted her life to be the way she wanted it – with her husband, sons, money…with everything that made her happy and met her needs.
God had a different plan for Naomi, and He brought her exactly what she needed…Ruth. Since I started looking at the meaning of names – Ruth means friend. When Naomi was struggling, God sent her a friend. Now, Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, but she was the friend she needed at the most trying time of her life.
I would like to look at what Ruth did for Naomi that made all the difference.
1. She didn’t give in to Naomi’s self-destructive requests. Because Naomi was depressed and bitter, she didn’t want anyone around her – she was sending her daughters-in-law away from her so that she could be alone to bask in her depression. Ruth refused to leave and what she said to her is one of the most quoted verses in weddings, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” These words were spoken to let Naomi know that she was truly loved! Ruth was indeed a true friend to Naomi.
2. She took care of her and supported her. When Ruth left her own family and religion behind and moved to Naomi’s homeland she got a job so that she could take care of her.
3. She did not lose respect for Naomi. Even though Naomi was struggling with depression and bitterness – Ruth still honoured and respected her; she followed her advice about where to get a job, and how to behave towards her new boss.
4. Ruth was used of God to breathe new life in Naomi as she followed her counsel and saw that there was hope for a future family.
5. After Ruth remarried and had a child, God was praised for the outcome, and others reminded Naomi that God blessed her and took care of her. “And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:14-17
Naomi thought that she would never have a family and God allowed her to be a grandma and nurse to King David's grandfather!
It is my prayer that I may be used to be a Ruth to someone in need. Ladies, won’t you pray and ask God to use you as well to be such a friend that will help someone’s bitterness return to pleasantness. As Christians we know that we have such a Friend in Jesus, but we also know that God wants us to give that same help to those in need. II Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
If you are struggling like Naomi, trying to understand why things haven’t turned out as you've hoped – please consider the end of the Naomi’s story…and if I may I’ll pray that God sends you a “Ruth.”
I love you and want you to know that God loves even more!