1 – Bitter to Sweet – The Story of Naomi (Part 1)
“ 20 “Don’t call me Naomi, [b] ” she told them. “Call me Mara, [c] because the Almighty [d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted [e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:20-21 NIV
“13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
Ruth 4:13-17 NIV
Naomi is a bible character who is not often heard or spoken of. Naomi’s story, in short, starts in the scripture as a very painful and tragic one for her personal struggles in a very difficult time (as the scripture says that there was a famine in the land). She had been married and her husband died. She had two grown sons, and they both died. Some say that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Naomi might disagree. She knows the pain and despair of losing a loved one. But not only did she lose a loved one, she lost three! The scripture doesn’t say how they died or how old they were. It simply says that she had her family members; then she didn’t. She did have two foreign born daughter-in-laws, but even one of those left her side and moved on with her life. In Naomi’s time, to lose one’s husband and sons virtually sentenced an older widow to a life of poverty and suffering. I read in David Guzik’s commentary:
“To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no family in Moab, and no one else to help her. It was a desperate situation.”
Early on in the book of Ruth, Naomi wants to change her name to Mara, which meant “bitter” (Ruth 1:21). Through her pain and sorrow, Naomi felt that God had cursed her and that He Himself was afflicting her with these burdens. I have heard it said that when intense pain comes, I can choose to become “bitter” or to be made “better”. Naomi was so distressed that she chose to become “bitter.”
Through Naomi’s pain, she would discover a renewed life with the faithful companionship of Ruth, the daughter-in-law who chose to stay with her. With Naomi’s coaching and direction, Ruth would meet and marry a godly man named Boaz. Ruth and Boaz cared for Naomi and also had a son named Obed. Obed, the grandson that Naomi got to nurse, would became the grandfather of one of the greatest Kings in the history of Israel, King David, and more importantly a descendant in the line of Jesus Christ Himself!
Amazing! What appeared to be a story riddled with tragedy, fear, hurt, pain, and sorrow, was actually a building block for the redemption of mankind, and for the coming of Messiah!
Naomi’s life story reminds me that there is always new life with the Lord, no matter how old I may be or how hard my life’s circumstances have been.
Lord Jesus, You use humble beginnings to accomplish great and AMAZING things! You can use the brokenness of a widow to bring forth the greatest King a nation had ever seen, so I trust that You can use any pain I have in order to bring glory to Your name. Amen.