Naomi in the Bible

    Annaliese Raynak

    Who was Naomi in the Bible?

    The story of Naomi shows us how God’s plan can still overcome the bitterness and tragedy that occurs in our lives. Naomi lived in Bethlehem with her husband, Elimelech, and her two sons, Makhlon and Kilion.

    A famine struck the land, so the family moved to the country of Moab to survive. Shortly after the move, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi a widow and mother to their two sons. Her sons married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other named Ruth.

    Unfortunately, about ten years later, both of her sons died. By that time the famine in Judah had ended, and so Naomi decided to return home to Judah. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to leave her and return to Moab to try and find husbands.

    They protested and cried together, but Orpah returned home. Ruth decided that no matter what, she would follow Naomi and her God. Once she saw that Ruth’s mind was set, Naomi allowed her to continue the journey.

    Upon returning to Bethlehem, Naomi felt her name, which means “my pleasantness” was no longer fitting, and she insisted she be called Marah, which means “bitterness”.

    With no means of supporting themselves, Ruth began gleaning in the fields to gather grain. Once Naomi discovered that Ruth was in the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband, she instructed Ruth on how to ask Boaz to save her from her plight.

    Boaz agreed to become Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, and after approaching the first man in line who turned away the offer, Boaz married Ruth. In time, Ruth gave birth to a son, Obed. Naomi rejoiced in Obed’s birth and assisted with his care as if he was her own son.

    Naomi and Ruth

    When we look at the story of Ruth and Naomi, we often tend to focus on Ruth’s happy ending. Even though she loses her husband, Ruth is faithful and is redeemed and blessed with a happy marriage to Boaz. While this is an important part of the book of Ruth, Naomi’s story is also just as significant.

    Naomi saw losses occur in her life that would keep most of us up in the middle of the night. First, she most likely had to combat the uncertainty and homesickness that comes with moving to a foreign land, especially during a famine.

    Next, not long after the move, her husband passed away. Finally, after her situation started looking up with the marriage of both her sons, both of her children died without leaving any children behind to carry on their lineage. She was left alone in a foreign country with only her daughters-in-law to keep her company. She had no job, no family, and no certainty for the future.

    The sting of death and bitterness weighed heavy on Naomi’s heart. With every move, she only encountered more suffering, more striving, more grief, and more shattered dreams. But even in her pain, she must have been an example of God’s faithfulness. She must have lived her life in such a way as to cause her daughters-in-law to cling to her and cry at the thought of her leaving them behind.

    Ruth recognized something different in Naomi, something that would cause her to leave her country and her family in pursuit of the unknown. They had shared trials and losses, but they were not related by blood. Naomi had no way to help Ruth and could offer nothing but her company.

    But Naomi must have told Ruth about God and His faithfulness. She must have reflected God’s light, even in the trials she encountered. Once they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi insisted she be called Marah, which means “bitterness”. While she had unwavering faith in God and His sovereignty, she failed to trust that what He was allowing to occur in her life was, in fact, a great blessing. God wasn’t finished writing her story.

     

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    “Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own." – Ruth 4:16 (NLT)

    God will never leave you

    When we encounter trials and grieve for our losses, God is there. He sees every tear and hears our every cry. Like Naomi, we might feel as if we have nothing to look forward to in our future. We can even choose to define ourselves by our pain and bitterness.

    But God speaks a different story over our lives. He defines us today not by our circumstances or what we have done, but by what Christ has accomplished on our behalf. When we face difficulties or even loss, it doesn’t mean that God has left us behind to fend for ourselves. His plan for our lives will still come to pass. It might look different than we expected, but it doesn’t mean that it will be any less good.

    Like Naomi, let’s be so full of steadfast faith that we never question God’s sovereignty, even when we hurt. And let us mature in our souls beyond Naomi by trusting that even the hurting times are part of God’s perfect plan for us. It isn’t easy, but when we choose to believe God’s promises, we recognize that our pain is always the prelude to our pleasantness.

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    Annaliese Raynak

    Annaliese is a storyteller whose passion and purpose is to help others connect their stories to the grand narrative God planned for all creation. Weaving a tapestry of words, she aims to highlight the ultimate source of Truth and help individuals discover their God-given value.

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