I have often contemplated the profound relationship between Ruth and Naomi. This story has always touched me so deeply because of the incredible way it reveals the true heart of women. This is the only place in the bible where God highlights the love and loyalty He created in them. The fact is, like it or not, we have an incredible longing to be loved and accepted by other women in our lives; whether it’s from our own mothers, mentors or friends. Walk with me while I contemplate the thoughts of these two women and let’s see if we feel that tug deep within us that says, “That’s me, Lord.”
Naomi was a woman who had been struck with a long season of suffering. Her suffering was so great that she told her friends to no longer call her Naomi (which means “pleasant”) but rather, to call her “Mara” (which means “bitter.”) You see, she had not only been widowed but also lost her two sons. The only two people she had left in this world were her two daughter-in-laws by the names of Ruth and Orpah. They were of Jordanian descent which is where Naomi and her husband had made a life for themselves. After Naomi’s husband and sons passed away – she decided to leave Jordan and return back to her homeland Israel, alone.
The story goes on to say that Naomi said to her daughter-in-laws, “Go back to your mothers’ homes instead of coming with me. And may the LORD reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the LORD bless you with the security of another marriage.’ Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.” This part is so very sad to me because I have experienced such similar situations that just the thought makes my heart bleed. I’ve been a “Naomi” of types. I have, in a sense, kissed someone good-bye and then broke down and wept. But also, I’ve been a sort of Ruth who said, “No, I want to go with you” and wept bitterly because I was afraid my Naomi would say, “No.”
I can imagine myself as Naomi the night before she told those women her plans. If I had been Naomi, I would have tossed and turned all night long. I would have laid there and felt those crushing fist blows to my heart over and over as my eyes drenched my pillow. My mind would have been conflicted. On the one hand, I’m certain I would have heard my own voice say, “Naomi, these are the only people you have left in this world. You will be all alone if you let them go.” While, at the same time, I imagine I would also hear, “Naomi, do what is right and let them go.” Life just isn’t easy.
Now, even though Orpah initially protested, she later said her good-byes and departed. And if you read Jewish traditional literature, you will find that Orpah is
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Journal of a Sinner, Listening for that Still Small Voice
ISBN-10: 1498413064, ISBN-13: 978-1498413060
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