“Don’t call me Naomi.
Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter.” Ruth
Sometimes life is hard. Naomi knew this. She had been forced
to leave her homeland or face starvation. Her husband died soon after moving to
their new home; her sons, whose names mean “sickly,” also died after several
years of poor health. Now she had two widowed “foreign women,” in addition to
herself, for whom she was responsible.
It’s no surprise she felt bitter and angry at God as she
returned to Judah. Her difficulties may have been etched in her hair, her face
and her stature. “Can this be Naomi?” the women of Judah exclaimed. Trouble had
“Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” Naomi answered, “for
the Almighty has made me very bitter.” Rather than put on a happy face and spew
spiritual platitudes, Naomi was honest about her struggles. She blamed God.
Yet still, her daughter-in-law Ruth proclaimed, “Your God
will be my God.”
Ruth’s god, the god of the Moabites, was called “Chemosh”
whose name means, “to subdue.” He was a god who crushed. By choosing to follow
Yahweh, though, Ruth was not necessarily looking for a “quick fix” to her problems. Naomi
had been suffering for more than 10 years, but based on Naomi's example, Ruth was willing to abandon the god she had known all her life to follow Yahweh. Through Naomi’s struggle, Ruth saw a personal, authentic faith — a faith that questioned but also one that surrendered.
Can we be transparent with our struggles and still set an
example of faith for others?
The biblical record seems to offer a resounding
YES! In addition to Naomi, consider the stories of Job and John the Baptist. Job
spent 39 chapters of a 42-chapter book hurling questions at God in anger and
frustration and listening to the pat answers and theologically accepted
explanations of his friends. But, when all was said and done, God said to
Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the
truth about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7, HCSB).
In prison, John the Baptist expressed doubts about Jesus. He
sent a message asking, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect
someone else?” Jesus told John’s disciples to report to him all that they had
seen. Then, to the crowd Jesus said of John, “Among those born of women no one
greater than John the Baptist has appeared.” (See Matthew 11:1-11).
God is not offended by our questions. He welcomes the
opportunity to grow our faith when we honestly question Him from a position of
“Why?” we may ask in one breath, while whispering in the next, “Your
will be done.”
Of course, God may not answer our “whys” in this lifetime. We
may have to wait until heaven to understand the reasons behind some of our
challenges. In the meantime, though, be assured of this: God responds with
compassion to an honest, questioning heart that is reaching out to Him.
This week’s reading: Judges 8-21, Ruth 1-4, 1 Samuel 1-3
Post #14: Discovering how to live missionally through a chronological reading of God’s Word.
Labels: adversity, anger, Bible, Bible studies, Bible study, blaming God, chronological Bible reading, faith, faithlessness, frustration, Naomi, Ruth, TravelLight