Widow to Widow- Part 1

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God has been speaking a lot to me about the heart of a widow and what they need from others and also specifically from each other.   This week I will be speaking about the relationship of Naomi & Ruth and next week I will discussing Dorcas or in some translations Tabitha.  I believe in both scenarios we see God is not finished with a widow who has lost her beloved.  Encouragement and a continued life of service to God for the widow is important. Let’s look at the passage of focus below:

When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.  With her daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land.  Them Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.  Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”  But 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”  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–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!”  At this they wept aloud.  Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung to her.  Ruth 1-14

 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 my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16

So we see three widows reeling from the loss of three men who were their leaders, lovers, and providers for their families.   Naomi has received word that the God of Israel was making provision for her people back home in Bethlehem and so she and her two daughters-in-laws set out together to return to her homeland.  Then all of a sudden, Naomi begins urging the two to return home to their mothers. Next we see Naomi experiencing great anxiety to be responsible for their leaving their families and homeland.   She reasons that she cannot provide more sons for them to marry to take care of them and love them and urges them to return home.  One leaves and one stays. 

We see in verse sixteen, that Ruth’s desire is not to leave Naomi all by herself to turn back from her.  Ruth desires to go with her and make her life with Naomi and to become a part of her people’s heritage and to make Naomi’s God hers as well.  This is an amazing commitment.  Let this sit and resonate with you.   Ruth clings to Naomi because she looks at Naomi as a mother– she has that much respect and love for her as a daughter would.  She cannot bear the thought of even death separating them.  Tragedy can bring people closer and the thought of more tragedy can be heart wrenching. For Ruth this would have been tragic for her.   Ruth was even forsaking her homeland, her family and the family religion to stick by Naomi as a daughter would. 

Don’t you think she had seen something different with this family who knew God.  They had reliance on Abba Father and knew of his love and provision.  They worshipped the one and only true, living God.   They had a lasting hope in Him. 

Naomi did not yet realize it at the time, but she needed Ruth as much as Ruth needed her.   Naomi was so grief-stricken by the triple loss of her husband and two sons, I feel she desired to isolate herself due to the unbearable pain, bitterness and grief she was experiencing.  Ruth would not allow her to do this.  

Let’s take a closer look at the state of Naomi, in my mind as scripture indicates,  she felt she would be a burden to them, holding them back from a new life and new beginning.   As she arrives home, it is like people have a hard time recognizing her because of the tragedy she had experienced, her appearance must have been seriously changed due to the pain, loss and bitterness that had shattered her life.  Naomi  even identifies herself to the people of Bethlehem as bitter and asks to be called Mara which means bitter instead of by her namesake Naomi which means “my joy,” “my bliss,” or “pleasantness of Jehovah.”   We see in Ruth 1:19 “…the women said, “Is this Naomi?”  and then she responds in verse 20 and 21 “But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?'”

Naomi blames God for her circumstance, something often people do when they find themselves in tragic circumstances. However, she returns home where she hears of God’s great provision for her people in the midst of famine showing her reliance on God even in the midst of her hardship.  As the story unfolds we also see Naomi directing Ruth to go to one of her husband’s relative’s fields by the name of Boaz for the barley harvest.  There Ruth finds favor with Boaz and she is blessed by being able to provide even more food from the harvest for her and Naomi.  Ruth relies on Naomi’s wisdom and guidance as she guides her down a pathway that ultimately leads her to marriage with Boaz.  Naomi is later blessed by the love Ruth and Boaz show to her because they embrace and continue to include her in their lives.  We later see that the women (probably the same women who did not quite recognize her when she return home in the midst of her grief) say to Naomi: ” ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’  Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed.  He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

 We see in the big picture that through Boaz and Ruth, Naomi receives that grandson she thought she never would receive.  Her life became full again and she took part in building a legacy and a lineage that ultimately led to the very lineage of our Messiah Jesus Christ!   An amazing story of where two women’s lives turned from tragedy to triumph in Christ himself. 

I leave you with these final thoughts.  Tragedy can be overwhelming and hard to move on from, but God does not want us to stay in that state of bitterness and grief for the remainder of our lives.  If we are left behind, he has a purpose for us to live on with his calling on our hearts and walk down a pathway of courage to live it out one day at a time.   I believe we see in this story that God used both Ruth and Naomi to encourage one another.  Naomi had wisdom as the elder to impart to Ruth.  But we also see the wisdom of Ruth to listen to the wisdom of Naomi.   Showing love and embracing our loved ones who have had great tragedy and loss who are left behind is of utmost importance to our God.  I believe the widow is close to God’s heart and he greatly desires for us to embrace them as Ruth and Boaz did in their family.   Encourage them to have a bigger perspective and to continue to serve God and others. Invite them to be a part of family gatherings often and to share in family moments that are special so they will feel embraced and loved by your family.  We have an everlasting hope in Christ and until we take our final breath here on earth he is not done with us.

Love & Blessings,

Dawn

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