What Can Christians Learn from Naomi?
Although it appears that Naomi is sulking throughout the narrative, if we’re patient and pick through contextual clues, we can see that she actually has a sweet and caring spirit. Christians can learn a lot from Naomi about perseverance, especially while navigating difficult circumstances.
1. God Continues to Move During Hardships
We can often feel abandoned by God when tragedy strikes. Naomi by no means had an easy go of things. In a foreign land she loses her husband and her two sons, and returns back to her hometown with no prospects and with very little means to survive.
As she faithfully journeys forth, God still continues to work—and he does in our lives, too, when we face our most difficult seasons. By Naomi opening her heart and life to Ruth, welcoming her to come along to Bethlehem and work in the fields, Ruth met Boaz. And this blessing redeemed both her and her mother-in-law Naomi. In the end, Naomi gains a son, and through her line, the Savior of the world redeems mankind.
2. We Can Help Others in Our Difficult Moments
At first glance, we may think that Naomi does absolutely nothing in the story. She gets sad that her family passes away and then Ruth works in the fields to provide for both of them.
We have to keep in mind Naomi wasn’t young and probably couldn’t pull her weight in the field. Furthermore, grief had paralyzed her.
Nevertheless, as soon as she catches wind of Boaz, she praises the Lord and walks Ruth through the Israelite customs of proposals to kinsman redeemers. She explicitly says she wants Ruth to have a good home and husband. Even before the two of them come to Bethlehem, she tries to send her daughters-in-law away from her to find new husbands. After all, she doesn’t want them tied down to having to help an old woman.
Throughout the narrative, we actually see Naomi looking out for Ruth, even while in the midst of paralyzing grief.
3. God Redeems the Lost
Naomi thought her family line had ended, but God continues it through a kinsman-redeemer. She gains a son and so much more at the end of Ruth.
We see other examples throughout the Bible of people who think they will have no offspring. Abraham and Sarah didn’t have their first child until they were 100 and 90-something respectively (Genesis 21).
Even when we’ve reached a dead-end and can’t see how anything good can come out of our circumstances, Naomi’s story reminds us that God is working out redemption and restoration always.
Although Naomi wasn’t perfect, her character is very different than what we hear about in church. In the midst of her crippling grief, she continues to look out for her daughter-in-law, despite tensions Israel would have experienced with Moab at the time.
Once she senses God moving through Boaz, she rejoices. Naomi helps pave a way for Ruth to be redeemed, and in the process, allows God to redeem her family line.
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