“‘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.’” Ruth 1:20-21 NIV
When Naomi cried out these words to her daughter-in-law, Ruth, she believed them. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. She had no one to provide for her or look out for her. She felt she no longer had meaning or purpose.
As moms and family of loved ones who are lost in their addictions, we are also tempted to cry out these words.
Mothers cry because they have lost their children and everything they had dreamed their lives would look like. They live each moment wondering if they will receive that knock at the door. For some, their children have been lost due to death. In either case, grief is a stark reality. Emptiness is so very real.
Wives grieve over the loss of their marriages. They have to become the head of the household and worry about providing for their children. Is this what marriage is supposed to look like? Their husband has vacated his role as father and spouse in pursuit of his other love, his life controlling obsession.
The things that once brought us joy and made us “feel” fulfilled now leave us feeling empty. The roles we identified with no longer fit into society’s definition of wife, mother, sister, daughter.
The image we see looking back at us is unidentifiable. Who is that girl in the mirror? Certainly, we never pictured ourselves here in this place right now. There was no way we could have prepared ourselves for this.
God saw things differently, though. In doing so He prepared us in advance for this place of barrenness. Mara is a place of deep pain and bitterness. He knew we would feel such a deep grief that we would wonder if we could go on.
For Naomi, He gave her Ruth to come alongside her and to strengthen her. Ruth stayed with her. Naomi would no longer be her mother-in-law, but her mother. Ruth would provide for her and care for her. And in doing so, God provided Ruth with a guardian redeemer in Boaz.
"Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today...He will renew your life and sustain you..." -Ruth 4:14-15a
The Lord has promised to be our Guardian Redeemer. He has promised to fill the voids in our lives as we look to Him. Naomi could once again hope, something she had lost so long ago.
Grief has a way of making the world monochromatic, void of color and light. Hope adds vivid color and brightness back into those grey places.
Have you lost hope? Are you in a place of grief, emptiness, and bitterness. Don’t stay there. Don’t believe for one second, like Naomi, that this is as good as it gets. Look to the Lord of all hope. He wants to fill you to overflowing. He is more than able to restore your joy.
“Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13 NIV