Call Me Blessed
20 “But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Ruth 1:20-21 NKJV
Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons of life that are draining and simply wear to our souls. I was reading the story of Ruth recently and found comfort in a season of weariness from the story of Ruth with her Mother-in-law, Naomi. Recall that Naomi had left with her husband and two sons from Bethlehem in Judea to live in Moab. There her sons both married Moabite woman and then Naomi’s husband and two sons both died. One daughter in law remained in Moab as Naomi determined to return to the land of her fathers in Bethlehem. Ruth, her devoted daughter in law, would not leave Naomi and goes with her to Bethlehem. When Naomi returns to Bethlehem she is greeted by people who recognize her and the women of Bethlehem said, “Is this Naomi?” Then Naomi gives this response in verse 21 above, which is the culmination of all of her frustration and disappointments in this life. We even see her circumstances have affected her perception of God.
Naomi means “pleasant” and Mara means “bitter”. Embittered with life Naomi says that “no longer am I to be called Pleasant, my life has not been pleasant. Now I am to be called Bitter”. Because of the bitterness of her heart, she has perceived that God has brought this suffering upon her. That is a pretty defeated attitude. Those are the words of someone who has given up and accepted the defeat of her situation. But then, of course, Ruth serves in the fields. There she is noticed by Boaz who in turn offers to redeem their situation and marry Ruth. They are married and have a son named Obed. Now their entire situation has been turned around. What appeared hopeless and defeated has very quickly been reversed and now both women are secure and blessed. And this was done in an amazingly short period of time.
The women of Bethlehem had seen Naomi at her lowest and heard her words of defeat. But look at the words that come from the mouths of these women regarding what they see now in Naomi. Naomi who thought God rejected her: 14 “Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Ruth 4:14-15 NKJV
Their words confirm that Naomi is blessed by God, and she and Ruth are indeed blessed by God. All of this turn of fortune happened very suddenly. Look at how fast Jesus can turn around the circumstances of our life when we just serve Him as Ruth humbly did. By the way, the son that Ruth had with Boaz, his name (Obed) means “worshipper”. Let’s praise Him right now for what great things He has for your future and what you are being prepared to do next. He will turn your situation around suddenly!
J Todd Hostetler