A family in an agricultural area facing a famine… depressed economy, mouths to feed, and hardly any food. They made a tough decision – to move to an area apparently not as hard hit by the scarcity – another nation. The difficult move is made and things seem to be going better for awhile… their two boys grow up and marry women from the new nation. Then a tragic thing happens… the family’s father and bread-winner dies. The widow has no livelihood and now has to depend on the help of her two sons. However, problem upon problem – a little later both of her sons die leaving dependent widows. The widow faces a terrible situation in that culture… She has no livelihood or support… Now we have three dependent, desperate widows! Things could not be much worse – Three helpless ladies in a strange country without income, provision or protection! How can they survive? The widowed mother-in-law (and perhaps her daughters-in-law) are forced to subsist as migrant farm workers in the fields of Moab.
On day the widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, overhears that things are better now back in her homeland… there is food! She only knows one thing to do… take a big risk and move back to her homeland! One daughter-in-law decides to stay in Moab. The other, Ruth, determines to stay with her mother-in-law and help her. Naomi, feels alone, she feels responsible for her daughters-in-law, and she is bitter! Why has God allowed this to happen to her? Everything looked hopeless! When she arrives back home she will not even let the ladies of her hometown call her by her given name, Naomi… She insists they call her “Mara” – “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me… He has brought calamity upon me!”
If Naomi, only knew! God was aware of her situation! He was at work providentially! He had plans not only to provide incredibly for her, but to give her all her heart longed for… a secure future, a wonderful son-in-law, a beautiful grandchild, and abundant provision… In fact from her grandson, born to Ruth, would come King David and ultimately, Jesus, the Christ!
This story just about blew me away today (you see, I know how the story in the little book of Ruth turns out)! I don’t know how bad things may have gotten for you… Take, hope! God is able! God is at work even when things seem impossible and hopeless! He is able to “make all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!” (Romans 8:28) Just ask Naomi! (In fact, I’ve got a feeling Naomi regretted insisting on being called “Mara!”)