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July 11

Ruth 1, 19-22

Something to read

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?' 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. 
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

So Naomi returns to Bethlehem. I think her outburst is wonderful - don’t call me ‘Naomi’, which means pleasant, call me ‘Mara’, which means bitter.

The way she tells her story is so precise yet full of pain, I left here ‘full’ and come back ‘empty’ [v21]. The fullness was of course a husband and two sons; the emptiness is that they are now buried in Moab.

Today there are tens of thousands of migrants who have similar pain-filled stories. It is interesting that when Naomi points the blame at God, she uses the Hebrew word ‘Shaddai’ [pronounced shad-dah'-ee], which means Almighty. This is the same title used in Job. Is this being used in a derogatory sense: ‘The Almighty has done this’?

Naomi points an accusing finger, Job wanted to take The Almighty to court. How do you respond to life’s pains and frustration?

The psychiatrist tells us that by putting on a brave face, our friends cannot reach or help the ‘real and hurting me’. Spiritual advisers say our relationship with God is similarly distressed by us hiding the real self.

God knows us better than we know ourselves, so why attempt to hide? Once we become real before God, healing and renewal can start.

Something to do

Discover the meaning of Chilion, Mahlon and Ruth. When do you think they received their names - at birth or later? It is well worth reading the rest of Ruth.

Something to pray

Set aside time for this.

In a moment of quiet bring anything that pains you to God,
Share fully with Him in prayer [anger, tears, sulks and silences are OK],
Then relax and allow God’s healing love to come to you,
Allow it to flow through every part of your being.

Lord I bring the pain that hurts so much,
I hand them to you.
Heal and restore my innermost hurts.
In the name of Christ I ask this,

Today's contributor is the Rev Frazer Hawkes, a retired Methodist minister


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