by Grace Hunter

Have you ever had a time in your life when you doubted God’s goodness? When circumstances or situations seemed to conspire against you in such a way that you could not possibly see a way out, or any way that a good outcome could result?

Naomi certainly found herself in this situation in the first chapter of the book of Ruth. She had been living in a foreign country. They had moved to Moab
because there was no food in Bethlehem, their home. First her husband died, then her two sons as well,  leaving Naomi with no means of financial support.
She had two young foreign daughters-in-law, no grandchildren and didn’t even want to be called by her name.
Naomi means “pleasant”, but she asked to be called Mara, which means “bitter” -– a fitting description of her current emotional state.  “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has gone out against me”, Ruth 1:13b NIV.

Naomi said, “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me”, Ruth 1:21 NIV. Did you see it? She was doubting God’s goodness in her life. Grief can do that. It can block our ability to see God and His goodness. Naomi doubted she would ever be full again. She doubted she would ever want to be called Naomi again, as she could not see – in the midst of her grief – that anything could be pleasant again.

However, Naomi and Ruth went back to Bethlehem  (which means “house of food”). “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess,
her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning”, Ruth 1:22 NIV. Naomi returned to her homeland, to a place where her relatives lived, to the land of her God. The timing of their return provided an opportunity for Ruth to work, first gleaning the barley harvest and then gleaning the wheat harvest. Naomi began to see the kindness of Boaz and had hope that he could provide for the two women in a more permanent way. Chapter 4 shows how Boaz agreed to be their kinsman-redeemer; he then married Ruth as well. After the couple had a son, the women of Bethlehem 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! 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. Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 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 4:14b-17 NIV.

Naomi, who could not see the goodness of God in her circumstances detailed in chapter 1 of Ruth, was full again in chapter 4. She had a family again, a grandson, and a home. What do we do with our doubts? Do we return to the God who can provide?  Do we go to our God with them? Do we search His word for answers?     

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