“For it is exceedingly bitter to me…that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”
We all have those sore spots.
Come on, don’t cover them up with cute Christian slogans,
“Oh, I’ve forgiven that. The Lord knows best. God is just so good. Let’s just rejoice always.” All true, but sometimes we use clichés to cover our hearts.
The thing about God is that He knows our hearts. And if we aren’t being up-front and honest about the state of affairs in our hearts with God and ourselves, then we have stunted what would otherwise be a growing, intimate relationship with the Creator.
What makes your list of “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”?
Early death of a loved one
A career that dropped out
Scars. Some you can see, many that you can’t, but hurt even worse.
Naomi was a woman whose pain was so close to her that she seemed resigned to forever be wearing it.
Exceedingly bitter was her autobiography.
She even changed her name from Naomi (meaning pleasant) to Mara (meaning bitter).
With the collapse of her finances, severe famine and drought, the death of her husband followed by the deaths of both her sons, Naomi’s life had indeed gone from “pleasant” to “bitter”. She was aged, abandoned without security, home or husband, and so she did the only thing she could, she made the long trek back to her homeland. Shame-faced and spent from a 7-10 day walking journey on dusty roads, Naomi faced the people she’d left years before.
As if the heaviness her heart already held wasn’t enough, she now faced the shame of coming home empty when she had left so full. We watch Naomi’s story unfold and we see ourselves. Hopeful, dreamy, until the circumstances became too much. One thing after the other, heartbreak after heartbreak, and eventually we find ourselves at the very end of our tattered rope. Unsure. Lost. Scarred. Perhaps even past desperate hope to a place of empty resignation.
“The hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”
She hadn’t abandoned her faith, she knew God was still sovereign, but she just couldn’t see His goodness anymore.
Are you there, Sister?
Are you the bruised reed, the broken hearted, the abandoned and emptied?
Maybe you’re not anymore, but perhaps those broken places still linger somewhere in the corridors of your heart. You try to avoid them, but sometimes a light shines on them and the searing pain you feel is like it happened yesterday.
For Naomi, or Mara as she preferred, the Lord had not abandoned her. God was using her heartbreak to bring her home, to redeem her heart.
He was working in her as she welcomed new daughter-in-laws, one of which would become so attracted to Naomi’s solid faith that she would willingly leave her own homeland to follow Yahweh.
God was working in the pain of her heart to give her enough faith to return, despite her shame and emptiness.
The good Father was working in the timing so that Naomi would come home right at harvest season.
She couldn’t see His hand, but He was still there.
Her cause had not been disregarded by her God despite how she felt.
Her Abba desired “pleasant”, not “bitter” for His daughter.
It’s the same for us, as His adopted heirs. He doesn’t say the pain is good, but He does promise to bring goodness for our hearts from it. He promises fullness.
Naomi’s husband and sons didn’t rise from the dead. Her pain wasn’t eradicated in one fell swoop. It was still there, but God was good and He showed up. Because of her faith, God blessed Naomi through Ruth and her new husband Boaz with security, an inheritance, and an heir. An heir that would place Naomi as the great-great-grandma of King David through whom would come the Savior, the Eternal Redeemer, and our own very rich inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ.
One woman’s pain.
One woman’s faith.
One True God who lovingly worked in the darkness to bring about His light, not just for her, but for humanity.
At the birth of Naomi’s grandson her community couldn’t possibly ignore the goodness of God in her life and proclaimed:
“Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
In turning over our scars to the One who gave His Own Hands to be scarred for us, may His light shine so brilliantly, even in our darkness, that our community, our city, our nation, our world can’t possibly ignore His Eternal Redemption.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!