Last week we looked at the problem of trying to cover up our mistakes. That is what Naomi had tried to do by encouraging her daughters-in-law to return to Moab and not accompany her on her journey back to Bethlehem. Orpah had returned, but Ruth refused to leave and made the commitment to stay with Naomi until death.
It had been ten long years since anyone in Bethlehem had seen Naomi. As she and Ruth entered the city the people looked and said, "Is this Naomi?". The ten years away from the blessings of God had taken their toll on Naomi. Her grief and sorrow over the deaths of Elimelech and her sons had caused a change in her appearance, but a greater change in her personality. Her name, 'Naomi', means pleasant, but she isn't pleasant anymore. Now she tells them to call her 'Mara' which means bitterness. Instead of making her better, her trials had made her bitter. We cannot control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them.
Naomi was bitter toward God because of what had happened. She was a woman with empty hands, an empty home, and an empty heart. She had not surrendered to the Lord and had not accepted His loving chastening. As a result, she failed to experience what God intended for her. Note: Heb. 12:11, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Naomi sounds as if God had totally forsaken her. She was really exaggerating her situation. Bitterness will cause a person to do that. It will also cause one to focus on what we do not have, and miss seeing what we do have! What Naomi failed to recognize is that she was not really poor and empty! Consider some of the resources that were available to her.
III. Bitterness: Blaming God for Our Trials. v19-22
A. Naomi had life.
1. That in itself is a precious gift from God, and is one that too often, all of us take for granted.
2. Naomi had left three graves in Moab, but God, in His goodness, had kept her alive and allowed her to return to Bethlehem.
3. Naomi thought that life had ended for her, but her trials were really a new beginning!
B. Naomi had opportunity.
1. She was surrounded by friends and family who cared about her.
2. She may have felt that she was isolated from everything and everyone, but she was home! 12
3. Again we see that when we only focus on our trials we miss what God has provided for us.
C. Naomi had Ruth.
1. Ruth was no doubt one of the richest blessings that Naomi had from the Lord.
2. God would bless Ruth and use her because she was a woman who was committed to Him.
3. Naomi would soon come to realize God's hand of blessing was upon this young woman.
D. Naomi had God.
1. He had not forsaken her, but by His grace had spared her and allowed her to return.
2. Whether Naomi realized it or not, God was at work.
3. When faced with trials we need to remember that God is in them and that He works through them to accomplish His purpose in our lives.
4. Note: Ro. 8:28-31
5. God is not only with us, but He is for us!
6. Barley harvest = spring = new beginning.