As I reflect on Naomi and Ruth’s story, it is incredible to remember how their story unfolded. In that culture, when husbands died, widows were often unable to work for a living and the double whammy was that Naomi was in a foreign land. However, she did have her two sons and their wives who married and lived in this foreign land with her for 10 more years. Then, another life-changing moment: Naomi’s sons both pass away. Man, I can’t even imagine the loss Naomi was feeling. Not only had Naomi lost her husband, but now both her sons. Naomi does the only right thing for the remaining family members, her two daughters-in-law, by telling them both to go back home. Naomi also encourages them to find rest in the home of another husband.
At this point Naomi could have had the pity party, lived out the rest of her life as a selfish victim by trying to persuade her daughters-in-law to stay with her so she wouldn’t be alone. In that culture, unmarried women had no security and the primary role for a woman was to bear children. Knowing that she was going to be alone, at her age with no promise of remarrying or having more children, she did the right thing and urged them to go home and find another husband. Then, those sweet words from Ruth: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”
Wow, sometimes mothers-in-law are not as respected or loved as much as Naomi was by Ruth. This relationship speaks volumes about the character and impact that Naomi had on Ruth. I believe this is an outstanding character trait that Naomi possessed and how she definitely lived out the example found in Titus 2:3-4. Naomi had this great relationship with Ruth which helped Ruth make a quick decision to stay with Naomi instead of going back home to the comfort that she had before becoming part of Naomi’s family.
Do you have a Naomi in your life? Or maybe you are a Naomi to your family or someone else. My Naomi was my grandmother who just recently passed away at the young age of 100 (OK, I have to come clean, she was a few days away from being 100). Grandma was a “Titus” woman, teaching me and being that godly example to follow; she was the gift that Jesus gave me. Her husband left her when my father was only 16 (actually on his birthday). With three boys to raise (my dad was the oldest) and no husband to help, this was a hard pill to swallow even in her time.
God’s plan gave my grandmother the strength to do right by her family. Grandmother always had love to share and was an amazing cook. I never could understand how she always made food from scratch, not from a box, and always fed her three boys and later their families making a total of 14 when we all got together. Activities always included the old-fashioned picnic to a park with home-cooked fried chicken, and all the sides, and the coldest watermelon ever. I never could understand how she kept all the food she prepared, and the watermelon, in her extremely small fridge.
After my grandmother retired from her job as a beutician, she made home visits to ladies who were shut-ins so they could feel good about themselves in having their hair done. (All you ladies can understand that, lol.)
The joy and hope these women had in common was that they were redeemed by our great big God. They were able to follow his plan, stay in the center of his will, and take every challenge to him for his love and guidance.
Now, go out and be a Naomi to another individual — or maybe someone in your family needs this influence. You just never know what impact you will have on another person’s life.