When Darkness Falls
Good Lord and Father, as I read Your Word and pray today, give me more of Your perspective on life.
Read Ruth 1:19-2:13
 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?”  “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  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.”  So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.  Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.  And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”  So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.  Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they answered.  Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”  The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”  So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”  At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me-a foreigner?”  Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband-how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.  May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant-though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
ReflectHow did God show his care for Ruth (and Naomi) here?
When Naomi returns to her homeland, people barely recognize her, asking, “Can this be Naomi?” Her reply, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter,” is poignant as Naomi means pleasant, while Mara means bitter. The word for God Naomi uses here, usually translated “Almighty,” is literally Shaddai, “cosmic ruler.” Naomi places her suffering in the context of God’s sovereignty and renounces her own identity by asking to be called Mara. But God doesn’t give up on her. When bad things happen, our ability to think rightly about God, ourselves and others is skewed. But God does not leave Naomi in this desperate state; she is delivered. Her dark night of the soul goes deep and some of us can identify with such utter despair and blackness; yet we worship the God who never lets go of us. Now Naomi directs Ruth to the harvest field and ultimately to Boaz, taking a proactive role in her own, and Ruth’s, survival. She makes something of her circumstances. After defeat, death, famine, debt and loss, Naomi demonstrates real courage.
What proactive steps, if any, might God be calling you to take today, on yours or someone else’s behalf?
Loving Lord, I see how well You care for Your children and I trust in Your care for me, too.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.