Each of us who’ve trusted in Christ as our savior made a commitment much like Ruth. Naomi heard Ruth’s confession, but she wasn’t the only one:
God Himself bore witness to Ruth’s commitment; He also bears witness to our commitment.
Everything I think, say and do in my life reflects my commitment to Christ. My life is clearly visible to God in all aspects; nothing is hidden from Him.
God was not only a witness to the life of Ruth, He witnessed Naomi’s life as well.
“So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. ‘Is it really Naomi?’ the women asked.”1
Two women traveling between Moab and Bethlehem; this could not have been an easy journey. Each step reaffirmed Ruth’s commitment, while each step seemed to cause Naomi to reflect on what she no longer had.
“…in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”2
How simple it is to appreciate the blessings of God, giving Him the thanks and the praise when His blessings flow in my life. But God wants me to appreciate Him when I go through the desert and wilderness as well. I can choose to focus on Him rather than my circumstances or I can choose to magnify my circumstance so that the presence of the Lord appears miniscule.
Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem and the women of that city cannot believe this is the same woman who left years earlier. She left with a husband and two sons; her cup was full. Years later, she returns and time has not only passed, it has aged Naomi with adversity.
“’Don’t call me Naomi,’ she responded. ‘Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?’”3
It seems strange to me when I read these words of Naomi. Is she is blaming God for the adversities she has faced, or indicating that the Lord has allowed these events to occur in her life? Certainly God is sovereign, He can choose to intervene in my life and He can choose to abstain. In each instance, He is holy, right, and just. Naomi looks over the span of her life and sees a life that has transformed from pleasant to bitter.
Does Naomi recognize God bearing witness to her words?
Naomi talks as if God isn’t present in the circumstances of her life. She gives a personal assessment of her life to the women of Bethlehem, but Naomi talks as if God is someone still in Moab, or a far distant galaxy. For many of us, life can seem like this at times. We ask ourselves:
“Where is God when I need Him most urgently?”
“Why does God seem so far from me?”
"Why is God silent in my struggle?"
In spite of Naomi’s circumstances, God was with her, bearing witness to her life and her words. It’s only now that I recognize how God strives with me.
God bears witness to my life because God is at work in my life.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”4
I believe Paul is saying that God not only bears witness to my life, He’s invested and involved in my life. Through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has invested a new covenant in the life of each believer. God is involved in ways which my human eyes cannot see; my human understanding cannot fathom the things God is doing on my behalf. Even though I cannot truly grasp what God is doing for me, He tells me to thank Him just the same.
My thanksgiving is the method by which God bears witness that I recognize His presence in me.
When God sees that I am thankful and grateful to Him despite the circumstances in my life, He goes to work on my behalf; causing all things to work together for good. We can see God at work in both Naomi and Ruth in totally different ways. Ruth is grateful and obedient, Naomi is bitter and hurt; yet God is at work in both their lives. Looking back, it’s easy to see this now, but when one looks ahead, things are not always visibly clear. One might say, “It takes faith”, but where is Naomi’s faith?
I do not question Naomi’s faith; she believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Despite this knowledge, Naomi was unable to exercise her faith to move her from the place of bitterness to that pleasant place where she once was.
We all have a tendency to want to go back to the place where things were once so good, but there is no going back in the life of a believer.
Despite my words, despite my thoughts, despite my actions, God has a purpose for me; and He will bear witness to me and my purpose by causing all things to work together for good.
You overwhelm me with Your steadfast love and kindness. You watch over our lives with tender care. You genuinely care about us even when our thoughts are clouded with doubt. How I must seem to You when I question Your love for me, when I ask, "Why are you silent to my prayers Lord?"
But You are here! Living, completely in me. Your Spirit breathes with my every breath. You are in my thoughts, my words, and my ways; I cannot escape Your presence. I don't want to escape You Father. I run to You that I may be in Your presence; sheltered by Your holy grace and mercy. I cannot escape Your love for me. It is a love that sets no boundaries. It is infinitely beyond my unerstanding. I cannot measure the height, depth, breath, and width of Your tremendous love.
You are causing all things to work together for good; You are totally invested in me. Why do You value me Father? I do not understand it. I have decided to not trouble my feeble thoughts with grasping things beyond me; I will just keep thanking You for everything You do on my behalf. Thank You for Jesus and The Holy Spirit. Thank You for grace and salvation. Thank You for blessing my life above all I could ask or think. I praise You with my whole heart in the name of Jesus, by whom we have a covenant with You. Amen.
|Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).|
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
- The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
- Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6