RUTH 1:19-21: “So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 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?”
OBSERVATION: How do I interpret the difficult times in my life? There have been many in my 59+ year journey. Some of them were caused by my own poor choices. Some were outright attacks of the enemy. And some were just the consequences of living in a fallen world. In all of them I have learned that I have a choice to make. I can become “Bitter” or I can become “Better”.
Naomi had gone through some hard times. She and her family had moved from Bethlehem to Moab during a time of famine. While sojourning in Moab she lost her husband and two sons. One of her daughters-in-law returned back to her people and now it was just Naomi and Ruth. Naomi was too old to bare any more children. She looked at her life and interpreted all that had happened as the judgment of God. Her interpretation led her to become cynical and bitter. She even changed her name to reflect her outlook on life – “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara (Bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
I too have been caught in this trap. When I look at my life and circumstances outside of the redemptive plan of God in Christ Jesus, I can view it from the wrong perspective and come to the wrong conclusion. Many of us have entered into life thinking that the goal of life is to attain happiness and comfort. That is like going to school and thinking that the goal of school is to enjoy recess. The goal of life and school is to train us for something greater. This life is just a blink of time when compared to the eternity we will spend with God in heaven. This life is not about our personal comfort and security, it is about becoming equipped for eternity.
This is why Paul exhorts us in II Corinthians – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV)
We all go through stuff. God is not punishing us, He is allowing us to grow in our faith. Throughout the Scriptures the people of God have been called to endure, to trust, and to not lose heart. In every situation God is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. And in every situation we can hear His call – “Do you want to become “Bitter”, or by my Grace – do you want to become “Better”. I am learning that what I choose directs what I see and feel. When I choose to become “Better” everything around me also becomes better. When I view the challenges of life through the Grace of God I find peace and joy in the midst of the storm. God meets me and blesses me continually along the way.
Lord, this morning I choose to become “Better”. Reach out and strengthen me with your Great Grace. Let me see things through eyes that look toward that which is eternal. May I be more interested in becoming like You than in being comfortable. May I count the cost of true discipleship. Lead me to Your righteousness, joy, and peace as I endeavor to abide in the center of Your will and purpose for my life. In Jesus Name!