Saturday I attended a breakfast where I heard a devotional about Naomi.
The speaker made an interesting point. When Naomi arrived back at Bethlehem she told people to no longer call her Naomi (pleasant), but rather to call her Mara (bitterness).
Naomi says the reason for the name change is because when she left she was full, but now that she’s back, she’s empty.
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
But think about it – Naomi had to leave Bethlehem because of a famine. True, she was together with her husband and her sons, but her sons were obviously struggling with health problems (you can tell by their names). The family traveled many miles to a country where they were immigrants and therefore, it would naturally take some time (if ever) for them to feel welcomed. Her home, her friends, her extended family were all back in Bethlehem. Yet, she looked at those circumstances and said they were good.
Now, she is home again. She is once again with her friends and extended family. And although, her husband and her sons have died, she has a daughter-in-law who loves her and is willing to do what’s necessary to support her mother-in-law. Yet, Naomi cannot find the good in the situation, but rather calls herself empty.
As the speaker told us, Naomi was going through a tough situation and wasn’t thinking straight and saying things that didn’t truly describe the situation.
Sometimes things go wrong in ministry – people say things they shouldn’t say or do things (or don’t do) things they shouldn’t (or should) do. Sometimes it’s easy to react by saying and doing things we shouldn’t be saying or doing. We see things that are good as bad and things that are bad as good. Sometimes people in ministry make quick decisions to leave their position or to lash out in anger at someone who has hurt them (ruining their testimony in the process).
We need to think about Naomi and how her perspective got twisted in the emotional turmoil of the situation. We need to step back and take the time to pray about the situation and look and react to it rationally.
I thought it was a good point.
And it also inspired me to be a good daughter-in-law and call my in-laws.