“She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’ So Naomi returned and Ruth, the Moabite, her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab, and they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
– Ruth 1:20–22
Oh, there’s so much here. I could talk for a long time about these three verses, but the big picture I want to show you and will lead us into praying is Naomi is obviously hurting in this passage. Over the last chapter, we have seen her husband die, her sons die. She’s now left a widow alone with a Moabite daughter-in-law, and Moabites were despised by the Israelites.
God has the power to take the worst, most evil act in all of human history and turn it into the greatest news for every single man and woman in history.
That’s why she says, “Call me Mara,” that word means bitter, “because the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. Has brought calamity upon me.” So this is a very low, raw, honest moment for Naomi. And she feels like everything, including God in a sense, is against her, but she has no idea that standing right next to her in Ruth is a picture of God’s provision in ways that will shock her imagination.
She could have never dreamed what God had planned in Ruth the Moabite standing next to her as they entered into Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. And I read these verses and I want to lead us to pray because I am assuming there are some of you listening right now who are walking through really hard times and it may even feel like everyone, everything, maybe even God himself, you’re wondering, is he against me? Where is he? Why is this happening?
Ruth 1:20–22 Shows Us Our Own Bitterness
And if you’re honest, maybe some bitterness, hurt, just sorrow is overwhelming you. And if you’re honest, bitterness may be creeping in, discouragement, despair, sorrow. You can think of so many different potential emotions and I just wanted to remind you based on Ruth 1:20–22 that in those moments when God may seem farthest from you, God may actually be setting the stage for a display of his faithfulness to you that is far beyond what you can ask or imagine.
I want to remind you that God has a track record of turning sorrowful tragedy into surprising triumph. This is the gospel after all, isn’t it? God has the power to take the worst, most evil act in all of human history and turn it into the greatest news for every single man and woman in history.
Lead to Pray for Those Suffering
So I want to pray specifically for those of you who are walking through hard times right now, based on Ruth 1:20–22. God, I pray for men, women, students, children who are walking through difficult times right now listening to this, and you know the depth of all that, that means, all that they’re walking through, and you know the depth of emotions they’re experiencing and the questions they have much like we see here in Ruth 1:20–22.
God, I just pray that you would give them grace and strength and faith to trust in you during these days, to know that you are faithful to your promises, that you do not leave your people alone. That for all who trust in you, you are not against them. You are for them and you will show your faithfulness on their behalf. May they know you more deeply, know your promises more truly during these days. May your presence be their strength and their joy and their help in every way they need it.
Pray for Our Trust in the Lord
And God, we pray, whether it’s over the next week or the next month or the next year or the next 10 years, however long it takes, even as we think about how things didn’t move fast in the Book of Ruth, even though it’s just a few short chapters. It was taking a long time.
God, we pray, God, we trust that in the end you will turn sorrowful tragedy into surprising triumph, that you will redeem our hurts and our pain and our sorrow and one day you will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will experience a joy in you and we will experience eternity with you, in a picture, in a place, in a setting and will experience an eternity with you, where we will experience a joy and a peace that we cannot even imagine at this moment. God, our trust is in you, and we know our trust is well founded in you because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In his name, we pray. In his name, we pray. And in his name, I pray over every single person walking through challenges right now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.