“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God…So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem… “Don’t call me Naomi [i.e. Pleasant]” she told them. “Call me Mara [i.e. Bitter], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:15-21)

In Naomi and Ruth we see two different ways of responding to hardship, to life’s ‘rivers of change’. Both felt the deep grief of losing their loved ones and being left alone in the world. Both were wounded in their hearts. One (Naomi) became so bitter towards life and God, that bitterness became her identity, her new name (“Mara” means “bitter”). The other (Ruth), allowed her loss to move her closer to God. She did not allow bitterness to become her identity. Instead, she looked for a new identity in God and his people. As we experience life’s ‘rivers of change’ we can become bitter. So, will we have a name change like Naomi’s (Bitter), or will we be like Ruth and find our identity, our hope for the future, in God?

Head: Has my response to life’s ‘rivers of change’ been like Naomi’s or Ruth’s response?

Heart: Is my heart centred on bitterness, or on God?

Hands: I will talk to God about my life’s ‘rivers of change’ that he might centre my heart on him, and not on my loss and its bitterness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am wondering if my responses to life’s ‘rivers of change’ have been more like Naomi’s or Ruth’s response. Give me the ability to face the truth about how I’ve responded. Please show me if my heart is centred on bitterness, or on you. I do not want to be centred on bitterness, as Naomi was. I want to be like Ruth and find my identity and hope for the future in you. Thank you for Jesus’ death and resurrection which gives real hope for a very good world to come. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A song to listen to: Fall Before Him

Phil Strong

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