Ruth 1:6-22 (Part 2) – Sometimes, We Have To Be Reminded of How Good We Have It!

Posted: October 23, 2017 in Book of Ruth
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Ruth 1:6-22 (Part 2 of 2)
Naomi and Ruth Return

Sometimes, we get all wrapped in what we don’t have we can’t see what we do have, even as Christ followers. Even in football, we can complain and think our favorite football team is going down the drain. Clemson, for example, played its last game on Friday a week ago, on Friday the 13th. The game was not on a Saturday because of the demands of television to have a few Friday night football games during the season. Clemson came into the game against Syracuse as the 2nd ranked team in the nation. They had defeated 3 top fifteen teams during the month of September and had disposed of its three unranked opponents pretty handily. The defense was among the best in the nation and given up an average of less than 11 points a game. They had been a ferocious defense so far this year. The offense had been consistently good and even had shown flashes of excellence at times. The offense was not as consistent as the defense but they were still good enough to average about 34 points a game.

However, on this particular Friday night, both the offense and defense turned in their worst performances of the season, and against a team that was unranked. The offense was horrid from start to finish, even though they produced a few good plays to score 17 points, but it was apparent to all that our starting quarterback, who had injured his ankle the week before in the game against Wake Forest, was not his normal, mobile self. He was noticeably hobbling as he played. Part of the key to the Clemson offense this year is the fact that Kelly Bryant is a quick and mobile quarterback. With a hurt ankle, he could not do any of the things that he normally does. He was so limited in his motion that he ended up getting hurt again, knocked unconscious, by trying to run on a bad ankle and getting hammered by a quicker defender. The coaches should have seen this but they didn’t and try to call a game as if he was fully healthy. It didn’t work. Then, after the concussion to Bryant, they brought in a backup who was not ready to play it seemed and the offense looked horrid the rest of the night. Also, the defense usually the thing that covered up for any shortcomings of our offense, played without passion and rarely made the Syracuse QB feel unsettled. He defensive backs were constantly out of position and got burned several times, although one DB returned a fumble for a touchdown. Then, there were the penalties on a defense that is usually well-prepared and plays with great discipline. On special teams, our kicker missed two easy field goals. It was just a horrid night. The coaches just did not have the team ready on either side of the ball. The players, too, took Syracuse too lightly. The result, a 27-24 loss to an unranked team and a big blow to the Tigers’ national championship dreams. If they win out the remainder of their games, they will most likely be in the playoffs but they lost any margin for error with the loss to Syracuse. They must win out or they will miss the playoff and have to settle for a nice bowl game.

With the loss though, there has been a lot of negativity among Clemson fans, including myself, as to the state of our football program. With the dysfunctional performance, many are wondering if that is the real Clemson and that the past two years of making the national championship game was because of the once-in-a-generation talent of DeShaun Watson, a coach on the field, who had the ability to command the team and make the coaches look good. There was and is a lot of negative things being said by Clemson fans much less anyone else. You would think that we were Tennessee or something. However, the bottom line is that DeShaun was a great talent, yes, but he’d be the first to tell you that we have great coaches and that he was not the only person on the field. Bottom line is that Clemson is still ranked #7 in the country even after the loss. Bottom line, Clemson can still make the playoffs. Bottom line, Clemson is still 6-1 and how many teams can say that after 7 games. Bottom line Clemson is the only second to Alabama in total victories over the past 6 ½ seasons. Sure, this team is not as good as last year’s national championship team but the sky is not falling. The team will recover from this loss and even if we do not make the playoffs this year, we will most like win at least 10 games for the 7th year in a row – again only Alabama can say more. And next year, this team will be national championship caliber once again because our coaches are such good recruiters and game managers and will be bringing probably the best recruiting class in the nation this coming year.

I know the ladies who read my blog may be yawning with a football illustration, but I think it is appropriate this morning. When we read of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem, she starts telling everyone to call her by the name of Mara, which means bitter, instead of Naomi, which means pleasant. She was letting the immediate aftermath of recent events taint her view of life not to dissimilar to how many of us Clemson fans have reacted to the loss by the Tigers on Friday the 13th. Let’s read the passage, Ruth 1:6-22, now and then we will discuss it some more:

6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”

14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara,[a] for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer[b] and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.

In this passage, we see that Naomi had experienced severe hardships. She had left Israel married and secure. She returned widowed and poor. Naomi changed her name from Naomi (meaning “pleasant”) to Mara (meaning “bitter”) to express the bitterness and pain that she felt. Naomi was not rejecting God by openly expressing her pain. However, it seems that she lost sight of the tremendous resources that she had in her relationship with Ruth and with God. When you face bitter times, God welcomes your honest prayers, but be careful not to overlook the love, strength, and resources that he provides in your present relationships and in the true blessings that are present in your life.

Certainly, Clemson fans have much to be thankful for even though they lost to Syracuse 10 days ago. Many other programs around the country would kill to be able to complain about being 6-1 this season and having a record 34-3 over the last 2 ½ seasons, having won at least 10 games over the past 6 seasons. And it’s not like the program is headed downhill. They just lost a game. It happens. Let’s not lose sight of that as fans of this team and program. That’s the very same thing that Naomi should see here as well. She has much even though she doesn’t have much to show for it at the moment. She has a husband who blessed her. Two sons who blessed her. She had two loving daughters-in-law and she even had a daughter-in-law that gave up her entire life history and family just to go and be with Naomi. She had a daughter-in-law that was completely loyal to her and would do anything for her. She still had many blessings. She still had a God who had a plan for her that she needed to trust.

How often do we as Christ followers want to get bitter about what we don’t have or what God hasn’t done for us? Sometimes, we act as though God has never done anything for us by the way we act in a current bad situation. I think of David, who would often lament about very real, bad situations but he would always conclude his lament Psalms with glorifying God and His sovereignty over David’s life. David never forgot about the history of provision that God had over his life. Often, though, we as non-giants of the faith like David, we tend to forget the blessings that we do have because God has not given us the desires of our heart, or we find ourselves in a really bad situation. We blame God for ignoring our cries. We see only what is in front of us and not God’s history of taking care of us. We need a change of heart. We need to see how God has always provided for us in the past and trust that He will now and in the future. We can let current situations blind us to the wonderful blessing that we have simply in our salvation. We let temporary setbacks make us bitter toward God instead of realizing and trusting that He has a divine plan working, working, working in the background of our lives. Let us trust the Sovereignty of God even in the worst of situations. Sure, we can question God’s plan. We have that right in our free will and God can handle our questions and our doubts. But remember always the joy of our salvation is the greatest thing of all. Remember that it was our loving God who cares for us so deeply that He gave us His Son to be the payment for our sin penalty. Remember that God is almighty and sovereign. Remember to trust in the Creator of all things. Remember to trust that He has a plan. Remember that He works all things together for our good. It may not seem like it right now. It may seem like He doesn’t care. It may seems like the world is crashing down around you, but He is there. Remember that we have so much to be thankful for in Jesus Christ even in the worst of times.

Amen and Amen.

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