On the road to Bethlehem, we read how Naomi went from sad to bitter to blaming. By the time she reached the city, she was proclaiming her emptiness. She had been so blessed, but now she felt like God was testifying against her, showing the world His displeasure. She told them to lay eyes on her and see what it looks like when God breaks you into pieces. Call me Mara! The hand of the Lord has gone out against me.
Punishment or Power
The word used for hand is often used metaphorically and can mean power. We read in the Bible how the hand of Lord or the power of the Lord came against enemies. In other places, we read that the hand of the Lord was a place of protection or providence.
Naomi saw God’s hand as a gavel, bringing judgement on her life. Now, with hindsight, we can see that His hand was delivering His power into her life. He gave us this as an example that He can take our suffering, cipher it through His hand and produce a future that births blessings we thought we would never see.
At this point for Naomi, when she was Mara, the only thing she could feel was the pain. She saw the hand of the Lord as heavy and full of suffering. When we are in the storm, oftentimes, we’re just like Naomi. We aren’t thinking about the big picture. We’re just trying to survive. We’re wondering if we will survive. We may even feel guilty because we have survived. We may know and say that God has a plan, but it doesn’t feel like it.
Naomi doesn’t know that Ruth will stay with her and feed her and care for her. She doesn’t know that this daughter-in-law will be better to her than seven sons and that she will soon marry Boaz. She doesn’t know that another son will find his place in her arms. She doesn’t know that this baby will be the father to Jesse, the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She doesn’t know that thousands of years later, a woman in the hills of Appalachia would need direction and strength and that God would bring it through her story.
At this moment in time, the only thing Naomi felt was broken. The hand of the Lord had come against her. God’s power was being shown in her life. She judged it as punishment, but now we can see it as His providence.
What if You are Naomi?
Hear this. You may now feel that God’s hand has come against you. You may feel the weight of His power and the weight of His plan. You may not understand the circumstances, and you may never understand why, but we must take assurance knowing there is a plan, and He is the author of it.
You may feel that God is punishing you, just as Naomi did. But what if you are Naomi? What if you judge it as punishment now, but soon, you will see this hand delivered divine power that birthed His will in your life.
I believe God’s hand came upon me. Not as punishment, but as an opportunity. It was an opportunity for God to show me His love and His power and His providence. It made me live out all the things I believed. I suffered and I blamed and I became Mara, but this same hand is now leading me into the birthing of my future. I believe His hand will do the same for you.
It may take generations to see all the puzzle pieces come together, but God has a plan. I write this not with understanding, but with trust and hope and faith. I trust that He is an all-knowing God that loves me and mine more than I will ever understand. I have hope that in hindsight, His plan will have been better than mine. I have faith that even when I judge His power as punishment, He will still remain. I trust that when I can only see through the glass darkly and only know in part, God will send me help. He gave Ruth to Naomi and He gave Naomi to me.
I believe God has given us all Naomi. Her story is a guide for us. In times of confusion and difficulty, when we don’t understand, when we are filled with pain, let us be as Naomi. When God’s hand seems heavy upon us, let us continue and just keep walking. Get all the emotions and thoughts out. Talk to God. Become Mara. And keep walking.
Thank you for joining me friends on this walk. Let’s all keep going together.
Above painting by Frank Ordaz.