Day 1 Scripture Reading: Ruth 1
Key Verse: “‘Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,’ she answered, ‘for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.'” (Ruth 1:20-21)
As I visualize the interactions between Naomi and her old friends and the introduction of Ruth to the community, I see shock. But I also see concern . . .
As was their custom, the ladies gathered around for afternoon tea when one of them spied two women coming down the road. She pointed them out to her friends.
One said, “Who could they be?”
Another said, “It’s odd they’re travelling alone.”
Still another said, “Strange things have been happening since the last judge died, I wonder if they’re part of that strangeness?”
As the two women neared them, the one looked familiar but the other one, even from a distance, was, um . . . different. Eventually the women realized the older of the two was Naomi, who had left all those years ago. She was a welcome member of the community and her return brought rejoicing: “Naomi has returned. Hurrah!”
But as she arrived within the circle of women, she said in a gruff voice, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara. I left full, and return empty with only my daughter-in-law for company. God has been hard to me; so there. Harrumph.”
The ladies stood slack jawed. How does one respond to those comments? And to top it off she brought a foreign daughter-in-law home with her! This is not the Naomi they remembered. Oy.
As Naomi’s story unfolds, the women around town react with continued friendship.
By the end of this saga, Naomi’s song will change — from bitter to sweet. She will, once again, be accepted and loved by a caring community, rejoicing in what the Lord has done.
I’m thankful Naomi was honest with her friends. Sometimes life leaves us feeling bitter. And it’s okay to be honest about the hardships we’ve faced. But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, doesn’t want us to remain in such a bitter state.
The story of Naomi and Ruth is a beautiful story of redemption.
It’s a story of God turning ashes into beauty, bitter into sweet.
And the best news of all . . . He’s writing new stories of beauty every day . . . in your life, and in mine.