Call Me Mara- for the Lord has dealt with me bitterly….

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20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] 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[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”  Ruth 1:20-21 NIV

“Why call me Naomi?”  she says.    She questions the people of Bethlehem in such a way that the people there must have known what her name meant and at one time her disposition may have been in line with the meaning of her name.    Naomi means “pleasant” in the American language, and “beautiful and agreeable” are the Biblical meanings. 

“Call me Mara- for the Lord has dealt with me bitterly.”  Mara on the other hand means bitter and apparently this is what she has determined her disposition would be since she felt the Lord “afflicted” her and “brought misfortune” upon her.    I have always read this passage with deep sadness to my soul pondering the deep sorrow she must have felt.  Understanding the reason for her bitterness and affliction.  Who would not be sorrowful to lose her husband and two grown sons all within a matter of years?  

Though Naomi I feel  loved God, her perspective of why things occur was skewed by her grief she had experienced.  It is hard to look at the bigger picture when life’s plans go down the pathway of pain and tragedy.

Tragedy typically  will strike  most people in most families at some point in peoples lives, but how we choose to deal with the tragedy says alot about a person and the maturity of one’s faith in God.  Our outlook and mentality must stay strong in the Lord when things like tragedy or even other things in our life occur that could cause bitterness and resentment in our hearts.  By allowing the root of bitterness  into our hearts towards God and/ or others, it causes a breakdown in our capacity to live a quality life in our creator and with those who are still with us.   Depression, oppression, and sheer lack of communication are detrimental to moving forward in life to live the purpose God has called us to live.  This is not the potter’s plan, he did not make us to live a life of despair and sadness.  He wants us to deal with it with his help, with His word, His peace, His presence and surround ourselves with loving friends and family.  His plan is that we are not hindered by bitterness and resentment but that we lay aside those hinderances in order to move on to live out our calling.

I think how truly blessed Naomi was to have such a wonderful daughter-in-law as Ruth who refused to leave her mother-in-laws’ side.  She loved her so  much.  They must of had a special bond and relationship.  When tragedy occurs we might be tempted to push those we love away. But had Naomi done this and insisted Ruth leave and go back to her people she would not have received the blessing of another son (grandson) through Ruth and Boaz’s marriage covenant which included her.

Ruth and Mahlon were married ten years and did not have any children.  Then he passed. Ruth’s life was not over and neither was Naomi’s.  God was not through with them yet.  And this must be our perspective.  So let’s look at the scripture to see what God’s plans were for their lives following their tragedy and see how His great plan unfolded  for their lives and for those who abide and believe in him to this day forward.

Ruth 4:9-22

New International Version (NIV)

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Naomi Gains a Son

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

 God’s plans’ are bigger and better than anything we ourselves could hope for ourselves and ever imagine.  His ultimate plan is that we have a relationship with His son Jesus.  His plan is that we do not live our lives angry, blame-gaming, indignant and bitter toward him when life does not go down the pathway we expect.    His plans are so much better than that and we need to trust Him for His provision and blessing even after we experience hardship and tragedy.  I am not saying we do not take time to grieve over our loses- we must, it is healthy to do so.  But we should NEVER blame God, we should trust Him for his ultimate plan and the ultimate good of our lives.  Romans 8:28 says 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.   (NIV).  This is something that must be in the upper forefronts of our minds.  We must seek Him especially during the times of sorrow and allow Him to move us to the next phase of our lives healing us and being our strength.   

It is easy to allow a bitter root develop when loss occurs and in the midst of failed relationships but as Christians we must seek to cleanse our hearts from the bitterness and resentment and trust God’s plan for our lives.   Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my most favorite promises from God.  11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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