I recently finished a study of the book of Ruth, using the book Ruth: Loss, Love, and Legacy by Kelly Minter. I have heard this story a hundred times, but it was so challenging to go through it slowly and to hear the perspectives of the other ladies who weren’t overly familiar with it. This blog post is a result of my challenged thinking and our discussions on Monday evenings.
I am Naomi. Let’s be honest here. I’d rather tell you I’m Ruth, that I’m fully devoted to those who seem bent on pushing me away, that I’m held up by this unspeakably rich faith in a God I barely know. I’d like to be Ruth—hard-working, selfless, humble, willing, obedient, and trusting. But I’m not. I’ve been me for 39+ years, and I’ve never been Ruth. So let’s talk about Naomi.
I am Naomi, running away from hardship and difficulty, straight into more hardship and difficulty. I am Naomi, failing to trust God’s provision for me, failing to rely on His plan and promises, turning to what is forbidden in an attempt save myself.
I am Naomi, entirely empty and bereft, pleading with the ones who love me to leave me. I am Naomi, hopeless and despairing, unable to see any way forward, any possible redemption, any hope or help. I am Naomi, taking on the identity of my shame and despair, naming myself Bitter.
I am Naomi, depressed and lonely, but never left alone, because God is still my provider. I am Naomi, seeing a bit of light glimmering through my darkness and wildly scheming to take advantage of it. I am Naomi, unable to help myself, desperately in need of a redeemer.
I am Naomi.
And here is what I know. At the end of the story, Ruth may be the hero and Boaz may be the kinsman-redeemer, but Naomi is the one who has been rescued. Ruth was strong, but Naomi saw God work in her weakness. In spite of all her faithlessness, hopelessness, bitterness, and loss—despite her inability to see past her own circumstances and trust that she, like David, would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living—Naomi was redeemed. Her story was made beautiful.
From the beginning, God had a plan for Naomi. He was working in her life even as He took her husband and her sons, leaving her seemingly alone. God hollowed Naomi out, so that she felt empty and hopeless, but her emptiness was a place where God’s beautiful plan of redemption was soon to be seen. In her emptiness, God placed Ruth, a woman who may have been just a daughter-in-law, just a foreigner, just a woman, but by the end of the story is declared to be “better than seven sons.”
I am Naomi, and mine is a continuing story of failure and imperfection and brokenness that is being redeemed by a God who has given everything for me.
I don’t have to be the hero in this story. My Redeemer already is.
Thanks to my Monday Night Bible Study Girls and our fearless leader Deb. 🙂 Y’all make my life better.