Sooner or later, we all face times of crisis, a major illness, the death of a loved one, a major conflict at home or church, serious financial trouble. Keeping our faith during these times is difficult. Everything is darkened by the terrible storm that has come upon us. What is important to realize, however, is these storms are passing. No matter how fierce, dark and gloomy they may be, God will see us through.
Naomi faced just such a time. She was as desperate as a person could get. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. In those days, it was much more than the relational loss of loved ones. Since there was no retirement or social security, she also lost her provision for everyday life. What did she do? How did she handle the situation? How did God get her through? Those are questions that we can answer to find hope for our darkest moments.
First, she went back to her homeland, a place where people knew and loved her. Her husband had moved the family to Moab because of a famine in Bethlehem. Things did not go well in Moab. Her sons married Moabite women and then her husband and sons all died. The Moabite people were an ungodly people. They were a people born in deception as Lot’s daughter deceived him into fathering a child through her (Gen. 19:30-38). The Moabites were a constant source of trouble and temptation for the Israelites. Naomi knew she was not where she belonged. She went back to her family and friends who loved her. We can also find comfort from our family and friends. They remind us that all is not lost.
Second, she faced the reality of her situation. “…No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord‘s hand has turned against me.” Ruth 1:13b HCSB When Naomi returned she told her friends, “I left full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has pronounced judgment on me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Ruth 1:21 HCSB At first glace these words seem harsh and angry, but when we look at the context of the passage we see that Naomi had not lost her faith in God. She felt she was being disciplined by God, possibly for the move to Moab. The fact that Ruth was willing to follow Naomi and follow Naomi’s God, shows that Ruth saw in Naomi a God worth following. Honesty is a necessary step to dealing with crisis. Sometimes life is just hard.
Third, Naomi saw God working in spite of her crisis. Ruth traveled to Bethlehem with Naomi and went to work gathering grain for food. She just “happened” to gather in a field owned by a kind relative of Naomi’s. “Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed by the Lord who has not forsaken his kindness to the living or the dead.’” Ruth 2:20a HCSB Naomi recognized God at work and set out to join Him in that task. She encouraged Ruth to let Boaz know of her plight and her willingness to be redeemed. Although the circumstances seem strange to our culture, this was God’s way of taking care of widows in that day. Boaz responded with his usual care and integrity and a plan was made. No matter how bad things get, God has a plan and He will take care of us. In these times, look for God to do something unusual, to take care of us in ways we would never expect.
Finally, Naomi waited for God’s blessing to come again. God was faithful. Through the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, Naomi received provision for the present and a grandson which would provide provision for the future. “Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name be famous in Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’” Ruth 4:14-15 HCSB
Just like Naomi, God will see us through the darkest circumstances and bring us to a celebration in Him in a way we could have never imagined.