Take a few moments of silence. Relax into our time with God as you reflect on the Word and pray.
Ruth 1: 18-22 (NRSV)
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them,
“Call me no longer Naomi,
call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.
I went away full,
but the LORD has brought me back empty;
why call me Naomi
when the LORD has dealt harshly with me,
and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Naomi experienced a terrible loss, the death of her husband and both of her sons.
She lived away from her extended family and, to make matters worse, there was a famine in the land. As Naomi considered her dire circumstances, she concluded that she had to accept the bitter blow she had been dealt and return to her homeland. There would not be a husband or any more sons for her. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families where they would be cared for and safe. Naomi could not imagine a happy ending and determined to walk the road back to Judah alone. Her grief was so deep that it changed her sense of identity. She discarded the name Naomi, meaning “My delight,” and asked to be called Mara, meaning “bitterness.”
But, God was not finished with the story. The deep friendship and love she shared with her daughter-in-law Ruth, as well as her ingenuity, would see her through. Naomi would become a grandmother and her great-grandson would be King David. The town women would say to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry out you life! And this daughter-in-law loves you so much she is worth seven sons!”
When we face seemingly insurmountable odds and we may not be able to imagine how God will bless us, we are often surprised by the way God’s grace unexpectedly weaves its way through our lives. God’s love, often revealed through our friends, helps to see us through our most difficult days.
Ruth models what it means to be a loving friend. Ruth refused to leave Naomi and accompanied her on the journey Bethlehem. Ruth had plenty of problems of her own as a widow with no resources. However, she offered Naomi a rich gift, her companionship and commitment to be a part of her life. Sometimes the most generous gift we can offer to a friend is our presence and our willingness to walk with them as they journey through their lives.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for you sustaining presence in our lives. Help us to be present for the friends and loved ones you have placed in our lives. Amen.
Go with God!