I just love the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi. I think it is such a lovely story of love and loyalty and bitter times turned to better times and a happy ending. Most people focus on the younger woman Ruth in the story and she is certainly worthy of our praise but I can truly identify with Naomi, the older woman. Naomi was taken from her homeland to a far off land to live. While she was there her husband died and she raised her two sons to manhood and they married Moabite women. It must have been a happy time for Naomi, but then one son died and soon the other son died as well. Naomi was left alone in a foreign country with no family left except her two young daughters-in-law. She needed to make a decision as to what her future should be. Let’s read about Naomi.
Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. “May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? “Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Ruth 1:1-13, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
Like Naomi I spent several years living in a foreign country far from my homeland. And when I wasn’t living overseas I spent many years living in states far away from Nebraska and my extended family. I can identify with Naomi as to how hard it is to be away from family and friends while following her husband to a foreign land. Like Naomi I lost my husband, not through death but through divorce and like Naomi I also am feeling too old to remarry. Now Naomi lost her whole family except for the two wives of her sons. She never even got to have the pleasure of seeing grandchildren as her sons died before this could happen. I live far distances from two of my four children and my parents and siblings are all deceased so I feel alone like Naomi at times. Naomi had Ruth and I have a son who is adopted and lives with me still. I can certainly identify with how Naomi felt about Ruth and wanting the best for her as I want the best for my son. Naomi decided to leave the foreign land of Moab and return to her home just like I returned to Nebraska. Yes I can see similarities between my life and Naomi’s. She was determined to return home knowing that her family may not take kindly to her precious Ruth. She does her best, though, just as I try to do my best in rearing my son. She wanted Ruth to have a secure future as she knew that in her era women alone were not very financially secure. Ruth was young enough to remarry even if Naomi herself felt that she was not and so she made a plan and Ruth followed her instructions completely and soon the plan came into its own.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:13-17, (NASB).
I find this story to be fascinating in so many ways. But the fact that King David was Naomi’s great-great-great-grandson is full of wow-factor. We all know that Jesus was born into King David’s line of genetics and I think that is a beautiful part of this whole story. Out of death and devastation came King Jesus! Wow! What an honor for Naomi. She had to have been overjoyed to finally be a Grandma and be the primary caretaker of little Obed. I wonder what God has in store for me and for my son and my daughters, sons-in-law, and my granddaughter? I am so thankful that God took such good care of an aging single woman named Naomi because it gives me hope and inspiration. If God cared that much about Naomi then I am sure that He cares that much for me and for you. Come to think of it I believe that God gave my son to me knowing full well that I would be divorced and alone. Like Ruth my son is very loyal to me and very loving and kind. He is such a great helper and I do so appreciate him and love him and want what is best for him. It won’t be long and my son will be an adult and I want him to have a good life, a secure life, and a contented life. I guess the best thing I can do is follow Naomi’s example. She was always encouraging to Ruth and a source of comfort and she helped guide Ruth with how to handle life. Remember for Ruth Bethlehem Judah was a foreign country. Naomi helped teach Ruth how to thrive in Bethlehem and I can follow her example as I help my son to learn to thrive in Nebraska. Naomi must have been a strong woman and I need to be strong as well. There are so many similarities between Naomi’s life story and mine and I hope my life story has a happy ending too, just as it was for Naomi. I hope the ending of your life story will also be a good one!