Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: Ephesians 4:31
How many of you can say that the people in your life do not understand you properly, because they don’t know your background? And they expect you to be further along in certain areas. “If you only knew how good I am doing to even be as far along as I am right now.. okay, I cuss sometimes, but I used to beat people!”
I have read the book of Ephesians plenty of times, and recently this verse jumped out at me. I thought about Naomi, who changed her name to Mara, which in Hebrew means bitter. Naomi, which was her given name actually meant ‘pleasant’, but after experiencing life, she no longer identified with this name. After losing her family, Naomi could only identify with bitterness, so she changed her own name.
What’s the big deal? Was it wrong or improper for her to feel sad about losing her sons, and her husband? Was she prohibited to grieve? Was she unjustified in desiring to leave the place of her woes, and go to another place and start over?
Naomi could not walk around with people calling her ‘pleasant’, she did not feel pleasant, neither had God been pleasant to her. She was good at some point in her life, but God removed goodness from her life. God had not dealt pleasantly with Naomi: He is in control of everything after all- not even a leaf falls off a tree without God’s approval. Yet God has approved for Naomi’s life to change drastically. Naomi’s sons were grown and she was expecting grandchildren, but instead her sons died! She may have been a great wife, looking forward to continuing her life with him yet her husband died.
I completely understand Naomi’s logic. Sometimes we are so focused on seeing how people are, or the decisions they make that we do not assess their backgrounds, and why they do, what they do. We condemn behavior, without understanding people’s histories and belief systems. If you need a little help to overcome belief patterns and perceptions, one of my favorite books is Perfect Lies: Overcoming Nine Hidden Beliefs That Stand between You and a Healthy, Joy-Filled Life (it will bless you)
You may be like me, where you have gone through many seasons of deliverance but are still in need of freedom from something. Maybe it’s loneliness, anger, envy, comparison, weariness, despair, lying, or any other thing. We can be so faithful to our coping methods, that we may miss the will of God. See, in a bittersweet turn of events Naomi and Ruth’s husbands had to pass away, so that Ruth could bear Jesse, who was David’s father. And through this lineage Jesus, the savior of the world would come.
When life doesn’t make sense, and all we know is suffering- we can remember Naomi who led Ruth to Boaz, to contribute to the coming of the long awaited Messiah.
Lord God, Most High and Eternal Father, may we have hope in believing that you have a plan to get us to Bethlehem. That if we are in our places of woes, may we find ways and places to start over again. I pray that you would show us who the Ruths’ are in our lives, and who the redeemers are. And Lord, in the words of Leonard Ravenhill: keep us eternity conscious. In Jesus name, Amen.