God is in control of ALL things. And that includes whatever you are suffering through or have suffered through or will suffer through. But WHY?
Elimelech walked through the door with a tense look on his face.
Clearly, something was weighing on his mind. Naomi went about preparing the evening meal, though it was a meager one, wondering what had happened to make her husband so tense.
I mean, she knew things were getting harder every day. The famine in Bethlehem continued and providing food for their growing boys was a bigger and bigger challenge every day.
“We’re going.” “What? Going where?”
Naomi was confused.
What was Elimech saying?
Where was there to go?
Did Elimelech really mean to take them away from their family and friends, from God’s people to a land that they didn’t know and that did not know God?
Could that possibly be what was best for their family?
There is no reason to doubt that Elimelech meant to do what's best for his family.
A famine in those times didn’t just mean no food on the shelves in the grocery store, it meant no food.
And Elimelech wasn’t the first one to move his family because of it.
Remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all fled to Egypt because of famines in their lifetime.
So moving his family to Moab wasn’t necessarily based on a lack of faith.
Unfortunately, we only get 3 verses into this Bible account when we read the Elimelech died.
But, like other women who lost their husbands, Naomi mourned, but survived, raising her two sons on her own, who eventually married Moabite women.
But then, in the very next verse, we read that just 10 years later, both of her sons die as well.
Wow. The first paragraph of the book of Ruth paints a very grim picture of how things turned out for this family.
But today, let's talk about how we can know that Naomi was a woman of great faith who worshiped the one true God and lived up to her name, which meant “joy” and “pleasant” during the time living as a foreigner in Moab and how that shaped her and her daughter-in-law.
But how so, since there are no details given about that time in her life?
Because when we read the remainder of chapter 1 carefully, it tells as much.
First, we see that, after her sons have died and she knows that she has no way to provide for herself and her daughters-in-law, Naomi makes the decision to go back home, to her people.
Let’s take a moment and recognize the faith that must have taken.
Naomi did not know how she would be received.
How would her old friends and extended family look at her?
Would they be happy she returned or would look down on her, suggesting she was getting what she deserved from God because she and her husband left all those years ago?
Would she be comforted or judged?
Cared for or cast aside?
Would she feel loved or lost?
Have you ever wondered or worried about this as well?
When things are going badly in your life, whether it is because of genuine misunderstanding that led to mistakes, foolishness that led to hurt, or complete rebellion that has brought destruction into your life, do you turn towards the community of Believers around you?
Or do you run from them?
Honestly, sometimes running seems like the easier option because it allows you to avoid embarrassment, pity and if need be, confrontation of sin.
When we do this, it’s usually because we are worried about how will others look at us, talk about us and treat us.
Friend, let me take this moment to reassure you that their opinion of you and your situation is ultimately inconsequential.
All that matters is your relationship with God. He will never look down on you when you turn to Him.
And when He restores, however that looks, it will be done through His mercy and love.
That being said, going back to where God’s people are is the best way to go back to God.
Because He will use them to reach you, to care for you, to comfort you, and yes - to convict you and to change you.
Ruth 1: 7, “So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.”
Despite living away from her people for so long, we can see that Naomi’s trust in the Lord is still there.
Her faith may be weak, but because of years of worshiping Him, it is not dead.
Naomi goes home.
Second, we see that points to Naomi’s faith throughout her life is both in her love for Orpah and Ruth and their love for her.
Ruth 1:9, “The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of your in the house of her husband!”Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.”
Naomi genuinely cared about their well-being in the present as well as their future when tells them to turn back to be with their own families again.
The young women’s response is one of overwhelming sadness at the thought of being separated from this woman they have loved for 10 years.
This tells us that Naomi must have been a kind, gracious, affectionate mother figure to them.
One that cared for them deeply and earned an honored place in their hearts.
Even more so, we know that she must have been a woman of great faith during that time because of the words Ruth uses in verse 16 when she refuses to leave Naomi’s side.
“Buth Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’”
Ruth’s disposition towards her mother-in-law and God tells us that during the years they lived with Naomi, she must have worshiped Him in front of her,
praised Him for His goodness in front of her,
sought His will and blessings in front of her,
and asked for forgiveness for sins in front of her.
Based on this passage, we can assume that Naomi was an example of a Godly woman full of faith, who openly lived out her faith in such a way that Ruth was willing to leave all that she knew to cling to both her and God.
Ruth 1:19-21 “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?’ She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara,] for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 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?’”
Naomi was a woman of great faith and but now she is broken and cannot see past her suffering.
Have you ever felt like this?
Like God has dealt bitterly with you?
Suffering in this life is real.
Sometimes it is due to our own bad decisions,
sometimes we suffer because of someone else’s bad decisions,
and then there are the times life just happens and we suffer because of things that are completely out of anyone’s control…
There is no way to sugarcoat this so I’m just going to say it.
God is sovereign which means He is in control of all things.
And that includes whatever you are suffering through or have suffered through or will suffer through.
It only happens because God allows it to.
Friend, I know that is an uncomfortable thought.
And you wouldn’t be the first to respond with, “What? Not my God. He wouldn’t allow so many awful things to happen in this world. Not if He was a loving God. A God who cares about His people.”
I want to agree, but the Bible tells us a different story.
Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Hold up - you mean to tell me that it pleases God to see His people suffer?
God loves His people, but when you study the Bible, you will find that it is filled with the accounts of men and women that suffer and when you look closely, you will also see that God was there the whole time, allowing it.
Not because He enjoys watching His children suffer but because He has a reason for it.
Friend, there is always a purpose for your pain.
You don’t have to like that. I don’t.
But when you accept it, you will see God at work in the midst of your pain and you will have hope that blessing is coming in your future.
Not hope, like wishful thinking, but hope like described in Hebrews 6:19, 20, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf”
You may still be asking why?
Because God has a plan for you and your life, just like He did for Naomi.
If you continue on to read the rest of the book of Ruth, you will see how God orchestrated Ruth working in the field of Boaz and eventually marrying and having a son with him.
Then, in chapter 4 you will read, "Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, 'A son has been born to Naomi.' They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David."
Did you catch the last line?
Ruth had a son, who was the grandfather of David, the greatest king of Isreal, a man after God’s own heart.
So let’s back up to see the big picture…
If the people of Bethlehem hadn't suffered through famine, Elimelech would never have taken his family to Moab and his sons would never have married Ruth and Orpah.
If Naomi’s husband and sons had not died, she would never have traveled back home with Ruth, and Ruth would never have met Boaz, the family redeemer, and given birth to a son.
A son that was to be part of the lineage of Jesus.
Naomi’s pain had a purpose. And so does yours.
You will suffer, have hope anyway.
You will experience trials, live a life of faith anyway.
You will feel pain, look forward to blessings in your future anyway.
Maybe you are not walking through a trial right now, but you know that you are not living your life to God’s glory the way Naomi was those years before her sons passed away.
Maybe you are not far from God but you know that your faith is not ready to be tested like Naomi’s was because you haven’t been investing in your relationship with the Lord like you should.
If so, you are not the only one who feels that way. I know, because I hear these kinds of things from women who love Jesus all the time…
And that’s why I decided to host a free workshop designed specifically to help.
If you need a hand figuring out how to make time in your busy schedule to get in your Bible, I will show you.
If you need guidance on how to figure out what to do with that time you’ve made, I will give it to you.
And if you need support on how to stay consistent with that time once you get started, I explain it to you.
Join me, live, on Feb 8th at 1 pm to get this super simple, step-by-step process to creating a stronger connection with GOD!
Because friend, God designed to be an incredible woman who He plans on using in both big and small ways for His glory and I don’t want you to miss out on that opportunity.
Your faith is meant to both be a comfort to you, but also to those that don’t yet know Jesus, and how you handle the hard times in your life will be your greatest testimony to the world.
Head to alisonsimmonsbible.com to sign up or use the link in the show notes.
I am so excited to help you become confident that you are living the life God gave you to the fullest with a mature faith that brings peace & joy into your life through your relationship with Him.
Until next time, remember to laugh in the chaos, hope through the tears as you learn to live your life by grace and not perfection.
Sign up here for the FREE Workshop: How to Connect with God - 3 things you can do today and how to actually make it happen
Categories: spiritual growth