Sometimes I look at my life and scratch my head. Lord, what is going on? What are you doing? Do you see what’s happening here?
In this life, none of us escape pain, loss, or hardship. But somehow in the loss, the sun keeps rising and days unfold to months unfold to years. God is patient and right with our story and growth. He weaves together our ministry, relationships, families, joys, faith, churches, positions, moves, leavings and goings with such intentional purpose. Naomi taught me to trust God even when life doesn’t turn out like you had hoped.
Until recently, I’ve always seen Ruth as the center character in the book named after her. But, I think a significant focus is also on Naomi’s story. The book opens and closes with her. It describes her life as full circle with a lot of grief and loss in between. As we read it, we should lean into the question, how will I respond when life doesn’t turn out like I wanted?
We all face hard things, and Naomi had a heavy load. Here are some hardships that Naomi faced:
- a move to a foreign land
- loss of her husband
- lost of her 2 sons
- a move back home
- facing the expectations of others
- disappointment of who she had become
She also gained two loving daughters-in-law which were such blessings. But the weight of the losses caused Naomi to become bitter. She even changed her name to Mara which means bitter.
I know bitterness. Do you? Bitterness is a chronic and pervasive [spreading wildly] state of smoldering [burning slowly] resentment. If we repeatedly ruminate over how we’ve been victimized, “nursing” wrongs may eventually come to define some essential part of who we are. [Dr. Stephen Diamond, Psychology Today]. Regardless of how wounds come, the church or family or friends or circumstances, we have a choice with how we will receive it.
I’ve had a lot of practice with this choice. I’ve been bitter, disappointed, hopeless, angry, and devastated. Eventually, I wrestle through it to a deeper faith in God. I’m so grateful we can see Naomi walk this same process. She ends with faith and joy but it took her awhile to get there. In our brokenness, we all will wrestle natural response of grief. But as we wrestle, what truths to we hold close?
You may be walking through some difficult things in your church- difficult situations, difficult people, difficult pressures. If Naomi would take you out for coffee, I believe these are some of the truths that she would share with you.
- God is working even in the loss – Philippians 2:13
- God weaves together all things for your good and his glory – Romans 8:28
- Even though we may resist him, he still loves us and helps – Romans 5:8
- He’s not targeting you. Loss is a natural consequence of life – John 16:33
- Gratefulness elevates your perspective to who God is – James 1:16-17
- God is with you in it. His presence, support, and strength is a gift – Isaiah 41:10