Next in our series, “My Story,” is the story of tragedy and triumph in the book of Ruth. The focal character is Naomi, a woman who suffered great loss but also experienced great gain. Her tale is real life … all of us are touched by pain and suffering. It is how we respond to those valleys that help define us. Naomi wanted to change her name to Mara, which means ‘bitter’ because she had lost so much. As the book of Ruth unfolds, we find that her bitterness will fade as she finds new reasons for hope and joy.
Not every story has a happy ending … at least from our view. Paul wrote to the Romans: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” 8:28). We know that everything that happens to us isn’t good, but can we believe that God can work and move and act in our circumstances for the ultimate good?
The book of Psalms contains the full gamut of human emotion. Glorious praise and flowing gratitude can be coupled with anguished pleading and grieving complaint. Psalm 13 begins with: “O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”
Then the tone changes, much like Naomi’s did: “But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.”
So, which is it? We live long enough to realize it’s both. There are times when we cry out, when we raise our fist toward heaven and shake it. But there also times when we understand we are not forgotten or forsaken. God is still in control. God still loves us. God does indeed care. We matter to Him.
Naomi learned that. Her tears turned to laughter. Perhaps her laughter was sweeter because of the bitterness she endured. God makes a way for us.