January 10, 2017

Call Me Bitter!

Ruth 1:6-22

The Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.

—  Ruth 1:20-21

The women of Bethlehem can’t believe this is Naomi. “You’re right,” she implies; “call me Bitter; Naomi is no more. And whom do I blame? The Almighty has done this. ‘The Lord has afflicted me.’” Four times Naomi complains against God, as if to say, “When is God going to do something about my problems?”

Generations of oppressed Israelite fathers and mothers cried to the Lord in Egypt before he sent Moses to deliver them. How many children did Pharaoh drown? How could God allow that? Why didn’t he do something sooner? (See Exodus 1-2.) How long do people have to wait?

It’s ironic that even as Naomi charges God with emptying her life, the one in whom God is working to refill her is standing right beside her. But Ruth remains silent. Later, with Naomi’s permission, she will go out to gather food and marry Boaz. Ruth and Boaz will rescue Naomi by obedience to God’s instructions in his Word.

When emptiness engulfs God’s people, or when the stream of God’s blessing in your life slows to a trickle for whatever reason, there’s only one remedy: cry out to God for help.

God is with us today too, through the Word, Jesus Christ. He knows our fears and our difficulties, and he intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father Almighty.

Keep my eyes open, Lord, to your Word, that it may fill my empty heart to over­flowing. Help me to trust in you always, for you are faithful. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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