“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?” –Ruth 1:20-21
Have your hard times ever left you feeling overlooked by your Heavenly Father?
This is exactly how Naomi felt in the Book of Ruth. Her family is forced to move due to a famine taking over the land, her husband dies and she is left with two sons. The two sons marry and then they die and she is left with Moabite daughter-in-law’s, no means of support and no grandchildren. She persuades one daughter-in-law to return home and the other stays behind to return to Judah with her.
The Book of Ruth illustrates a story of love, devotion and loyalty. It is a story of one woman’s journey from joy to bitterness and back to joy again mixed in with a sprinkle of faith for extra measures that perseveres through hardships only to realize God had not forgotten about her but instead was working on her behalf all along.
I can relate to Naomi and her situation and I imagine at times you have felt the same. I know there have been many times when I’ve felt God has forgotten me and has just left me out there to fend for myself. It’s like being thrown in the deep end of a swimming pool and told to keep your head above water as you struggle to catch your breath.
I have wondered where God was in the situation asking myself why he was just sitting there watching me bobble up and down like a cork on the water and not throwing me a life preserver.
Looking back on the situation I realized I was focused on the issue that was in front of me. I was thinking of the here and now and wondering how God was going to change the situation around to my good. I let bitterness , emptiness and self-pity blind me to the fact to what I truly knew in my heart that God was working behind the scenes and that in all things he works for the good of those who love him (Romans:8:28).
Have you ever felt so alone that you prayed for a sign of encouragement from God?
I have many times and each time God used an unexpected source to grab my attention and to put my focus back on him. He has used people, a song on the radio, a deer (an inside joke between God and myself) and a giant sunflower to name a few unexpected signs from God.
I remember one occasion like it was just yesterday when He used a sunflower to encourage me that I was not forgotten. The sunflower is a symbol of strength. A single tube-like stem designed to hold the weight of bright yellow petals, large bristly leaves, and a daisy like face standing straight and tall. This particular sunflower grabbed my attention because one day it was there and then gone the next but even more so was where it had grown -across the street from my driveway in a pile of dirt that belonged to no one.
Just like Naomi struggled with hardships, we will too. We must persevere keeping the faith and realize that we are never alone.
Tonya Masoner is a part-time legal assistant and full-time school custodian. She enjoys thrift shopping, pizza Sunday’s and binge watching Netflix. She loves telling people-“God’s got a sense of humor… I don’t even drink coffee.” Her Breath on Paper bio can be found here.