Daily D – Ruth 1:20-21
“Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
RUTH 1:20-21 (CSB)
I was whining recently about a physical limitation that is bothering me. Then I remembered a very important question I learned years ago: What does this make possible? Every problem is an opportunity. Every redirection unveils a path not previously seen or considered.
This new path may not be what any of us had in mind for ourselves or others, but here it is. What’s next? What is the best next step? Since our Father in heaven is leading this journey, and since he always leads along the right paths (Psalm 23:3), we can trust him to open our eyes to new wonders and to impress upon our hearts new truths.
Ruth had a hard time. Her family left their homeland due to famine (1:1). They did not have much, but they had each other. They could work hard and build new homes even though it was not where they wanted to live. Then Ruth’s husband died. Fortunately, she still had her two sons and their wives to take care of her. Then one son and the other died. She was left with two foreign women as her widowed daughters-in-law.
She sent them away. One left with many tears. The other declared her loyalty in one of the most moving passages in the Bible (1:16, 17). So the two widows wandered back to Naomi’s homeland. She felt the full depth of her feelings. She expressed the grief of the dark night of her soul.
Naomi did what many of us do. She blamed God. Ruth did what all of us should learn to do. She kept quiet and let her mother-in-law process her grief. As powerful as deep feelings feel, they are no match for ultimate reality. Ultimate reality sometimes takes a while to become clear. God in his wise generosity allows us seasons of grief, times when time seems to stand still, to return to the storyline he is working out in our lives and in our world.
There is so much more gold in this little book and so few words left to tell its story. Do take it up and read it in one sitting sometime soon. Read it prayerfully without hurry. Ponder how each chapter begins and ends. Note the very human tendencies and patterns of thought. Notice God’s hand at work in invisible, but completely certain, ways.
Notice how God takes ordinary people with ordinary problems and does extraordinary things that directly influence us today. I wonder what he will do for others down the line with the problems we are now facing?
One last thing: Naomi considered herself cursed by God. She felt like God was her adversary not unlike Job. Like Job, there was a great reversal in the works. The end of the story was better than the beginning.
Pay close attention to the blessings spoken aloud in chapter 4. In verses 11 and 12, “All the people” spoke a blessing upon Boaz and Ruth. It is breathtaking in its breadth and depth.
In verses 14 and 15, Naomi’s friends blessed her. These also are the kinds of words that fire the imagination and stir the heart.
Most importantly, appreciate the reality of how both blessings were fulfilled. Ruth’s baby was named Obed. Obed had a little boy named Jesse. Jesse had a little boy named David. David had a descendant named Jesus.
Take a good look at your problems today. What do they make possible?
Consider your problems. What opportunities do they provide?
What are the words of blessing you live under today? Who will you bless today?
Remember: When it appears God has forgotten all about you or has forsaken you forever, he is still working out details for your highest and best success. That is what his love does. It is his nature, his heartbeat. He could do no other.
Feel bitter if you need to today. Do not trust your feelings as measures of ultimate truth. Trust your unseen Father in heaven to lead you along paths yet unseen into a future more wonderful than you can now imagine.
I will wait for what this makes possible.
Our Father, where you guide, you provide. You know all that is going on with us today and you are working out your plan for our highest and best. Give us the wisdom to step into the flow of your grace for whatever we face. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.