What do you do when life makes no sense? When the unexpected happens and now suddenly you find yourself in a cloudy haze?
Let’s face it: Life will throw us curveballs. How we bounce back from these setbacks makes all the difference in the world. The good news is that the Bible is full of characters who can teach us a thing or two about rebounding from tragedy. Read on to see how God took care of one woman who lost just about everything.
The woman’s name is Naomi. The setting is Bethlehem on the west side of the Dead Sea and Moab, which is southeast of Bethlehem on the other side of the Dead Sea. A terrible drought in Bethlehem forced Naomi and her husband and two sons to move to Moab in order to improve their living situation. They stayed in Moab about 10 years or so. During that time, Naomi’s sons eventually married Moabite women.
On the surface, it would seem life was going well for Naomi. With her sons married, she anticipated the exciting prospect of being a grandmother. Even though the culture and religious practices were different from that of her homeland, life on the whole seemed better for them in this new country.
Suddenly life began to throw a number of curve balls in Naomi direction. First, her husband passed away. It is hard losing your best friend and soul mate, especially in a foreign place without a strong support network. But things were about to get worse. For reasons we will never know, both of her sons also passed away. Talk about a bad deal! It is hard enough to lose one child, but two? That’s really rough. Who is going to care for her in her old age? Who is going to provide for her in a foreign land? Although she loves her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, she’s not able take care of them. There’s no future for these young eligible women. Why should they stay with her? Consequently, Naomi faced the very real prospect of losing even her beloved daughters-in-law. Naomi felt empty-handed and bitter.
Her world was turned upside down. Nothing made any sense. “God, what are you up to? Are you punishing me for something I did?” are two questions that probably plagued this poor old woman. She had a major faith crisis. The only thing she knew to do was to send Ruth and Orpah back to their homes so they could find new husbands before heading back to Bethlehem alone.
The good news, this is not the end of the story. The truth is that God is planning something far beyond Naomi’s wildest dreams. You can read more about it in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In fact, why not take a few moments and read the whole story for yourself.
Naomi’s story is found in the book of Ruth. It is only four chapters long, but it is a great piece of literature.
Scripture: Ruth 1
- Consider Naomi’s life experience. Was God faithful to see her through the rough times in her life? How so?
- Do you sense that Naomi blames God for what happened in her life? Was God truly responsible for Naomi’s hardships?
- Did it always appear as though God was faithful to Naomi? What did Naomi do when she hit rock bottom? Where did she go? What is a possible reason she went there?
- Now consider your own life experience. What have been some hard losses that you have had to go through? How have those experiences impacted your view of God?
- Who are the characters in the story through whom God showed his faithfulness to Naomi? Sometimes God carries us through hard times by sending a good friend or a caring adult friend along our path. Who has been that unexpected person in your life?
- What do you think? Was Naomi resilient? Did she bounce back from adversity? What got her through those dark moments?
- Read the Bible verses under the supplemental sections. What promises does God give us in those passages? See if you can come up with at least one for each passage.
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Dear God, even though some things are difficult for me to work through right now, please help my faith in you to stay strong. Help me to stand on your promises, and help me to see your faithfulness, even in small ways. Amen!