So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” “Don’t call me Naomi, ” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 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.”
Naomi and Ruth were leaving the land of Moab because Naomi felt as though there was nothing left for her there, her husband and both of her sons had died and she decided the only thing left to do was to go back home.
Naomi’s name meant “my joy” and at this point in these verses she had no joy and certainly no hope so when she got home she let everyone know that she was changing her name to Mara or Sorrow. Naomi truly believed that her life would never be good again, her joy was gone, her hope for all of her dreams for her life were gone in fact in her mind God was actually out to get her. Once Naomi had reached the end of her rope she decided to go “home”. She was negative and depressed and had given up. It’s so easy to look at her and think, how sad, we know how the story ends and how God brings back joy and another baby and son in law into her home and her hope and joy return, but how about you? Have you ever felt like she did and you can’t see the end results of the plans God has for you? God wants to give you back your hope and your joy! He wants to turn your mourning and despair into dancing!
Naomi went home – back to her roots but she let everyone know right away there was no hope for her (do you have anyone in your church like that). It doesn’t appear that she went back to even be social or get involved, she went home and stayed there. Ruth went out to get the food and water and took care of “Mara”. Now, the incredible thing in this story is; no one agreed with her loss of hope for her life, they didn’t call her Mara they called her Naomi (my joy). They still loved on her and treated her with the same respect they would have before she left. There is nothing in this story that even suggests that anyone judged her for where she was, where she had been or for how she was feeling. They loved her and they welcomed her back. They walked through this with her to restore her to where they knew God had intended her to be, they didn’t judge her for feelings of dispair.
How do we treat people when they are down and out or maybe they aren’t where they should be spiritually? Do we give up on them because they have given up on themselves and God or do we see them through Jesus eyes? It is so important that we do our part in helping others be all they can be. It isn’t our place to judge, it is our place to love them and be a part of drawing them back into the life they were called to live.
Ask God to show you anyone that might need you to show His love to today, encourage any woman you see that may be hesitant to dig in deeper at church. Sometimes even a simple smile and a hug to show you care can be the greatest gift of encouragement for starters.
“If you want to get the best out of a person you must look for the best that is in him.” Bernard Haldane