Summary: 8 steps to help you become a bitter woman
I want to begin today with a story. It is the story of a businessman in Chicago whose name was H. G. Spafford. He was a dedicated Christian who, like us all, at times made earthly and unspiritual decisions. He had some serious financial reversals and he lost his home. He realized his family needed to get away for a vacation. Spafford decided to take his family to England. He sent his wife and four daughters ahead. In mid-ocean the French steamer carrying his loved ones collided with another and sank within 12 minutes; costing the lives of 230 people. The 4 daughters drowned, but his wife was rescued. She wired her husband, “Saved alone.”
Spafford was overcome by grief. He had lost his property, his 4 daughters, and his grief stricken wife was alone on the other side of the world. He took the next steamer to England to be with her.
His story parallels the story in scripture that we look at today.
It is the story of Naomi found in the Book of Ruth.
Naomi was a pleasant woman. In fact that was the meaning of her name. She was well loved, a woman that other women admired. She was well known in her community, recognizable by her cheerful attitude.
But a famine came upon the land. Her husband feeling the responsibility for his family’s welfare decided to uproot them and move to a more prosperous place instead of depending on God to see them through. So Naomi said her goodbyes to her friends and along with her 2 sons followed her husband into Moab.
His choice of location was not soundly made. Moab was a land settled by the descendants of Lot. Although relatives of Abraham, they were not part of the “promised people” of God, the Israelites. Moab was to be placed under a curse for their idol worship.
Isaiah 25:10 “For the Lord’s hand of blessing will rest on Jerusalem. But Moab will be crushed.
It will be like straw trampled down and left to rot.”
He had left the land of blessing for the land that would be trampled down. After some time there he died and Naomi was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, which also was not acceptable to God.
Deuteronomy 23:3 “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. As long as you live, you must never promote the welfare and prosperity of the Ammonites or Moabites.”
After 10 years both of her sons died, leaving her with her 2 daughter-in-laws. She felt alone.
Then she heard the news that the famine had ended, so she and her 2 daughter-in-laws packed to leave to return to her homeland. But as they traveled toward Judah, she decided to send them home. She thanked them for their kindness, she blessed them, she kissed them goodbye, and she wept with them.
First they both refused but after some sound argument she convinced one to leave. The other clung tightly to her. This one was Ruth. When Naomi saw Ruth’s determination she allowed her to go.
Let’s look at her homecoming.
Ruth 1:19-20 “So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.”
I find it interesting that the entire town is excited about her return. It has been more than 10 years since she left but that pleasant, cheerful, smiling woman has not been forgotten. People must spoke kindly of her, sharing wonderful stories. Now here she is and they can’t believe it. “Is it really you?”
But maybe they ask because there is something different about her. Maybe the smile has been replaced by a frown. Maybe they sense coldness in her they have never seen before.
Boy, does she set them straight. “Don’t call me pleasant! Call me bitter”
The circumstances and the years have changed her. She has become bitter. What lead her to this place of bitterness? And how can you get there?
1) Reject others.
Withdraw from those around you. Become indifferent to the problems of others. Think of only yourself. Naomi only concentrated on her loss. She gave no thought to Ruth who had loss her husband to death with no children to comfort her. She tried to cast Ruth aside leaving her to fend for herself with a people she had rejected by marrying an Israelite.
2) Reject God.
Naomi blamed God for the acts of her husband. She, in her faithfulness, followed her husband to a foreign land. “God made by life bitter. God brought me home empty. God caused me to suffer. God has sent tragedy upon me.” It wasn’t God who sent to a land where she would lose everything, where she would suffer, where tragedy would strike. It was the circumstances of life that did so. What she didn’t concentrate on was the statement she made “The LORD has brought me home.”