Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When Mothers Of Salem"1 (Lyrics)
Ruth 1:20-21 – "Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." (NIV)
Today our hearts go out to moms whose countenance is cast down with bitter anguish because their sons and daughters have succumbed to the devastations of addiction and related problems. The casualty count of this crisis among youth is alarming. But who is measuring the agony felt by the mothers? How can their joy be restored? Who can uplift their faces with renewed hope?
Consider Naomi, who also experienced a mother's grief. In her day, her nation's condition was much like ours: moral and political chaos, no strong leadership, people harassed and invaded, spiritual decline. Such an environment strains families and tears them apart. Youth become troubled, confused, and at risk. Often, it is the mothers who feel the anguish most deeply. "A foolish son [brings] grief to his mother." (Proverbs 10:1b NIV)
For Naomi, things got much worse. Famine forced her family to seek refuge in a foreign land. That's where she lost her two sons and her husband. We don't know why. Nevertheless, the grief was intense for Naomi. She returned to her homeland with nothing that she had once possessed, and she lamented bitterly as she reflected on her losses. All the family blessings had vanished. No descendants remained to bring her honour. Naomi felt the misfortune so intensely that she insisted on a name change: "Call me Bitter," she lamented. Poor Naomi! This downcast mother was desperately in need of a spiritual facelift — from the Almighty Himself.
Today's despairing moms, who lament over their offspring, may have difficulty imagining any uplift ahead. These moms will surely be encouraged by what God did for Naomi – and believe that God can touch their own family too … someday down the road … somehow … in some totally surprising way.
For Naomi, God sent the "facelift" in her old age: He restored her motherly joy through a grandson born to her daughter-in-law, Ruth. That made Naomi smile again. The other women were happy for her. With heartfelt joy, they proclaimed, "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age." (Ruth 4:14a,15a NIV)
Naomi got the facelift she needed through God's hand on her family. I encourage you to read the Book of Ruth through Naomi's eyes. Notice how it is presented from her perspective — especially the last chapter which describes her glorious upturn. She sets her grandson on her lap, like her own child.
As you sense Naomi's joy, it will surely overflow to you. You might even agree that the Book of Ruth is, in essence, an account of the ultimate facelift for moms.
Prayer: O great Joygiver, please uplift today's despairing moms with the hope of a future facelift performed through Your mighty hand. Help these mothers envision a time when joy glows on their faces, the outcome of Your merciful redemptive grace on their offspring. Amen.