Feelings. Some days I’m sure they will get the best of me. Today, I’m afraid and having a hard time feeling hopeful. I wonder why God has dealt me such a difficult season.
Have you ever felt this way?
It was a gloomy kind of Sunday with clouds overhead. I had a hard time focusing on the sermon at church or putting my heart behind the glorious words of praise and worship.
I was full of so many feelings. Deeply hurt and trying to hide my feelings, I came across as angry. Desperately wanting someone to help, but too prideful to become vulnerable and share.
I spend the time at church talking to God.
“I don’t understand.”
“Can’t you change this?”
“Why won’t you change this?”
“Where do I go in Scripture? Can a situation in the Bible relate to me?”
Then the Lord graciously answered. Ruth. Read Ruth.
Later that evening, I pulled open my Bible, expecting to resonate with Ruth, the woman who was most noble and loyal. The woman who put others before herself. I was sure the Lord had a word for me in the book of Ruth.
I didn’t get past chapter one. It wasn’t Ruth that I resonated with, and it wasn’t words of commendation as I lived out the suffering for making right decisions. I saw something I had never seen before.
I’m sure as a young girl, she had dreams of finding Mr. Right, marrying, and having children. According to Scripture, she not only married, but had two sons. Then life took a turn. Famine hit her homeland, and her husband moved her to a foreign land in order to find food. There, in a space of about ten years, Naomi’s husband died, her sons married foreign women and then they both died, and she was left destitute.
Naomi heard there was food in her homeland and decided to move back home. This is where we are introduced to Ruth, the faithful daughter-in-law who returns with Naomi. Upon entering the city, old friends and acquaintances asked, “Is this Naomi?”
This is where the story stopped me. Naomi’s answer was full of the same feelings I had all day. Her response: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”
Can you hear the feelings? The hurt, pain, disappointment, and, dare I say, anger?
Her life didn’t turn out like she wanted, and she processed the situation through feelings of disappointment. But, if you think about it, God had all of this planned.
Jesus would be born through the bloodline of Ruth and Boaz. In order for the Lord to make this happen, he orchestrated the union of Naomi and Elimelech, the birth of their son who would marry Ruth, the famine to get the family to move to Moab, and the death of father and both sons in order to ensure that Ruth returned with Naomi to Bethlehem in order to meet Boaz.
Naomi didn’t have the information we have that God was working all along. But isn’t that the point? God is always working in our lives. Sometimes it’s through those very difficult times. Times of intense feelings and emotions.
I read Ruth and my feelings shifted. I felt gratitude that, in every difficulty, I am blessed to know that my heavenly Father is beautifully orchestrating the big picture of my life. I might be the Ruth who has the romantic story of faith and fearlessness, or I might be the Naomi, the one the Lord gives much hardship in order to birth his redemptive story.
Either way, I’m thankful he knows me.