Life isn’t fair. How many times have you heard that? Or said it? Sometimes it is very hard to understand why things happen. Why do some families have to endure so much heartache? Why does anyone have to experience cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and so many other situations that cause pain and fear?
I have asked these types of questions many times, and I’m sure you have too. Unfortunately, I still don’t have an answer. It is easy to grow bitter during these “life isn’t fair” moments. The book of Ruth is a beautiful story of a young woman’s journey of hope and her dedication to Naomi.
Instead of Ruth, I want to focus on Naomi who is known as the mother-in-law referred to in Ruth 1:16 which says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” What a testimony of Naomi’s relationship with her daughter-in-law and her devotion to the Lord!
Prior to this incident, Naomi’s family left their home because of a famine. After relocating, her husband died and she was left with two sons who later married and then also died. Naomi was a woman of great faith, but the pain of losing those she loved left a hole in her heart which was eventually filled with bitterness. She said, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty had made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)
Naomi was definitely experiencing one of those “life isn’t fair” moments, but she tied up her skirt and trudged through the pain. The Book of Ruth tells of how Naomi trusted God through the horrible pain and overcame a period of bitterness. Her actions during these difficult times offer us some tips for avoiding or even overcoming bitterness in our own difficulties.
1. Returned to homeland (Ruth 1:6) – Surround yourself with people who really know you and love you. Don’t try to get through it alone. God often provides what we need through those who love us.
2. Accepted help from Ruth (Ruth 2:2-3) –If others offer to do things that you just don’t have the energy or desire to do, let them. They will feel blessed in helping to relieve some of your burden.
3. Encouraged and advised Ruth (Ruth 3) – Reach out to someone else who needs encouragement or guidance. Often the best medicine for our own pain is to focus on the needs of others and lay ours down for a moment.
4. Returned to faith (Ruth 2:20) – Naomi recognized God’s provision. Ultimately she surrendered to God and expected good things. Expect a miracle and trust in God for deliverance.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17).
When life isn’t fair, bitterness can quickly rob us of faith and joy. Whether you are hurting physically or emotionally, you must stop holding on to the pain and instead hold on tight to God’s love and the joy only He can provide.