Naomi's family moved to Moab, a pagan land, because of famine in Israel. Afterward her husband and two married sons died.
Because God was blessing Israel with good crops, the widow Naomi returned to her homeland where friends and relatives welcomed her.
Her daughter-in-law Ruth vowed to never leave Naomi and to worship the True and Living God instead of the pagan gods of Moab.
Naomi's loss was great, but she was back among God's people where food was plentiful, she had a devoted, God-fearing daughter-in-law, and she had God's comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
However, Naomi told everyone to call her "Mara" (bitter) because "the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty." (Ruth 1:21)
... empty ...
In the midst of trials, we often ignore God's loving hand of help and provision. But when this happens, we need to change our perspective, not our name.
*****If you're married, I encourage you to read this devotion about Naomi and Ruth: Was Naomi a Good Mom-in-Law?
1. Naomi wished her daughters-in-law well, but her explanation of their situation under-emphasized their loss and over-emphasized hers. Have you gotten so focused on your difficulties that you've ignored the difficulties of others?
Ruth 1:11-13: Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!”
2. Naomi showed no regard for Ruth's spiritual health. Have your troubles caused you to lose interest in eternal values? Are you bitter toward God?
Ruth 1:15-18: “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
This is Ruth's statement of faith. We don't know if she had converted to her husband's faith when she married him, but she genuinely believed and trusted the true and living God at this point and her faith was one of her reasons for returning to Israel with Naomi.
3. Naomi was ungrateful. Despite Ruth's devotion, she told people there was nothing good in her life. Have you lost your perspective on God's many blessings?
Ruth 1:19-20: 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?” 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 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 suffered great losses--the death of her husband and two adult sons. But she overlooked some important blessings in her life. Perhaps her faith was at its worst during this period, but her attitude made her situation worse, not better.
Ask God to speak to you through this true Bible story. What is He saying to you?
For more insights on Naomi and Ruth, be sure to read the devotion recommended above: Was Naomi a Good Mom-in-Law?
This devotion may also add some insights:
The Cost of Selfishness
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted