Be Like Naomi

Message: In Ruth 1 we read about Naomi, who lost her husband and then both of her sons. Death is hard enough, but in those times, women were not able to sustain themselves. They had to have a husband or sons to care for them or they would literally starve to death. There were no WIC welfare programs so if a woman was abandoned, it was so much more than grief and loneliness. Naomi understood that she was in a dire straits situation because she was too old to have another husband, and definitely too old to have more children that could grow up to take care of her. She knew her only hope was to go back to her hometown where her family was and pray they would take her in. She also knew that for her daughters in law there was still hope for them. They were young enough to remarry and build families. She loved them and wanted what was best for them so this is why she fought them so hard not to follow her. She wanted them to not only survive, but to thrive. Usually when we read this story we kind of bag on Naomi for being bitter, and then we bag on Orpah for leaving and we say “be like Ruth”. Everything inside me says, yes! Be like Ruth! But I think it’s important to understand we are not always in a “ruth” position. We need to also know when we are in a “Naomi” situation and even when we are in an “Orpah” situation. Naomi was hurting and desperate, but she chose to love her daughters in law more than herself by trying to send them home. She was choosing what was best for them and not clinging to them in her own fear and desperation. She did not put a single ounce of guilt on her daughters in law. She may have been bitter about her situation, but she fully accepted it and made plans to make the best of it by going home to her family. She did not wallow in her misery and she didn’t want to drag anyone else down with her. I love the way Naomi accepted her situation and still encouraged her daughters in law to flourish and redeem their own lives in spite of her own pain. We NEED women like Naomi and when we find ourselves in a “Naomi” situation we need to choose unselfishness and be willing to cheer for those who are close to us. We might be out of a job but if we can pray for someone else who needs a job, and cheer for someone who just got promoted or landed a new job we are being like Naomi. If we can encourage someone who has a family crisis while we are in the middle of our own crisis we are like Naomi. My challenge as I read this is to ask God to open my eyes to the people around me who are hurting, and encourage even when I need my own encouragement. The beautiful end to this story is that Ruth responded to the care of her mother in law and was faithful and loyal to a woman that she knew loved her and wanted what was best for her. When God blessed Ruth for her loyalty to Naomi, he also blessed Naomi though Ruth.

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