“Do not call me Naomi; call me, Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:20, 21)
In the days of the judges, Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their sons, Mahlon and Chilion moved to the land of Moab to escape a famine in Judah. Sadly, Elimelech died there soon after. Mahlon and Chilion took wives from Moab, and lived in the land for about ten years. Then they too passed away. A grieving Naomi prepared to return to Judah and bid farewell to her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Both desired to go with Naomi, but she told them to return to their mother’s house. Orpah did so, but Ruth clung to Naomi and they went to Bethlehem.
The Scripture above describes Naomi’s state of mind and heart upon her home-coming. Have you had occasions where you felt the same way? I certainly have. Life in this fallen world does tend to chew us up and spit us out at times. And God does seem during some of those times to be like an unkind friend, an unnatural Father, an unjust judge, as we mentioned here last week. Just call us, Mara, which means “bitter”.
However, the rest of the story trends differently. Ruth meets Boaz. They are married. They have a son. Then Naomi’s neighbor woman declares to “Mara,” – “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor woman gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” (Ruth 4:14-17a)
Her name was “Naomi” not “Mara” after all. “And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (v. 17b) Are you in the midst of a “Mara” time? Remember the Lord’s blessings. Do not overlook the love of the Ruth’s in your life – and look ahead with faith and hope for Obed.