It is always exciting when you find parallels to your own life in a Bible story. I have read the story of Ruth many times before and enjoyed it, but it was not till recently that I began to see it in relation to my own life journey.I realised that it was a perfect example of how God can take us from bitterness to hope.
Naomi and her family left Bethlehem in a time of famine to look for food. She left ” full” ,with her husband and two sons, to find food and better prospects in Moab. Like Naomi, I left Kenya for Britain to look for better prospects: I had ambitions of pursuing a course in creative writing, which I hoped would open doors for a career in writing. I was thrilled to gain admission to a highly rated creative writing programme. Although it was tough trying to survive in the new country, I was full of the hope that comes from pursuing a life goal. Success loomed in the future.
Life in Moab must have gone well for Naomi till her husband and sons died and she was left a widow with little hope. In fact Naomi whose name means pleasant became bitter( Mara) because of the misfortunes that had befallen her. When people came to welcome her back to Bethlehem she threw a damper on their joy by calling attention to her sorry state as is recorded in Ruth 1:20-21: “Do not call me Naomi ( pleasant); call me Mara( bitter) for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.” I was in a similar state of despondency when I returned prematurely from Britain with not only my writing dreams dashed, but also having suffered a heavy blow to my health, for in less than a year I had three nervous breakdowns. If you were to call me anything it was Mara-that is the story that I told:of how God had afflicted me in the land of my dreams.
Naomi’s return elicited attention from the residents of Bethlehem. Word went round that she had returned, not with fortune but with a Moabite woman.Moabites were not Israel’s cup of tea;they were people whom God had commanded them not to interact with. Then Naomi disappeared into the shadows. When I returned people asked questions about me: why did you return? They wondered about my prosperity: where is your car? Where are the sterling pounds? I had little to show for my efforts for even the postgraduate degree fell short of my expectations: I had passed but not as well as I might have wanted. The worst bit was the feeling that I would never write again. Hope was gone.
In the midst of a dire situation God outstretched His hand and gave Naomi, who thought she had nothing, beauty for ashes. God gave Naomi a grandson called Obed to be a restorer of life and a nourisher of her old age ( Ruth 4:15). For me, my Obed was when God showed me where he was at work among a large unreached group and called me to join him in what he was doing. As I began to share my story as well as God’s story with those who had no hope, my life was restored and nourished. In addition to the evangelistic ministry given to me, my desire to write for His glory was awakened and a door opened for me to do so. Like Naomi I felt that I had been given a new lease to life.
For anyone who has known the bleak depths of being hopeless, there is hope which is like an anchor to the soul firm and secure ( Hebrews 6:19). That Hope is found in God through his Son Christ Jesus. If you let him He will help you pick up the pieces and start all over again. He can give you the your Obed to be the nourisher and restorer of life.