Sunday, November 07, 2010
Thoughts on Naomi
I've been quite interested in the character of Naomi from the book of Ruth in the Bible. Initially I just thought she had a lovely name but I also really struggled to understand why she wanted to be called 'Mara' instead which means bitter- so much more ugly-sounding!
Recently, I got to read a Francine Rivers book Lineage of Grace, and it had a version of Ruth and Naomi's story. (I don't read a lot of Christian-fiction but I have enjoyed some Francine Rivers books as it helps me picture what life may have been like in history.) I was really intrigued by how Francine Rivers detailed these women, especially Naomi.
It occured to me how her life contained so much loss. She lost her husband Elimelech and both her sons. Thinking back to the way life was in Bible times, to go from a woman married with two sons (her life was probably pretty secure in terms of income and social standing), to having NONE of those.
Instead she returned to her homeland with nothing but a Moabitess on tow, who was a foreigner to them. This would've been a big no-no to the locals and they probably weren't very well received or welcomed.
I know this is not my situation but I think this connected with me because I'm learning so much about loss through things such as the husband and I having to change jobs and give up some dreams we had about our career future, through infertility and miscarriage, as well as through friends who have lost close ones.
There was also a situation earlier this year where the thought of losing the husband became very real to me. Thankfully this did not happen and I still have him but in a sense that day was life-changing and it made me think about the realities of life.
I guess with so much of our lives revolving around the idea of progress, advancement and plans on what you are going to do next, (and a lot of our identity is linked to these things) it hits you hard when your life is on 'pause' or for some even, like Naomi, in 'rewind'... when stuff is taken away.
A friend of ours has gone through a devastating marriage breakdown and he was talking about how he never thought years later he'd be back in this place of being single with a crappy car and a few bits of furniture- with really just 'nothing to show' for his life... I'm sure he thought he'd still be married, possibly with kids, and at a good point in his career... but it hasn't quite turned out how we all thought for him... it reminded me of Naomi.
NO WONDER she was upset. No wonder she wanted to be called Mara. I only understand a smidgen of her pain and yet I can understand why she would have called out in despair and anguish. When I was younger it was so easy for me to think she should've just 'gotten over it'... now bitterness is something that I'm more familiar with.
However, I also think even though she called herself a bitter person, she must've loved God and showed it. The fact that her daughter-in-law Ruth wanted to follow her God says something about Naomi. She probably demonstrated God's love through her strength and perseverance even back when they were living in Moab, a foreign land with foreign gods, or else Ruth wouldn't have followed her back to Bethlehem. You know what I mean?
Our friend whom I mentioned has also left us with a lot to learn. He's clung to God the best way he can through this process. I'm sure there are days where he is still angry like Naomi was (uh... I've been through less and I am!)... but as friends we can see that pleasing and following God has been his priority.
Ruth could've gone back to her family and started a new life, but she chose to stay with Naomi. I know it also demonstrates Ruth's character and commitment, but I would imagine that Naomi probably also had something about her that caused Ruth to want to adopt her faith. Naomi also demonstrated her care in helping Ruth find a new husband- Boaz, an older man but a godly man.
This is something I thought was worth considering... asking myself if I'm continually putting God first in all the aspects of my life. A hard one to do though huh?
Anyway. Just love it when there's parts in the Bible that suddenly seem to make so much sense or speak to us where we are at. I guess that is a way God speaks to us and comforts us through His word.
Hope you are having a good weekend.