But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.” Ruth 1:20-21
Naomi’s name meant “My Delight,” but she certainly didn’t feel like God delighted in her anymore.
Naomi didn’t believe God would ever do anything good for her again.
She felt she hadn’t trusted God enough. She condemned herself because she didn’t stay with God’s people in God’s Promised Land when life got tough. Her family left the country to meet basic needs, and they had found food and hoped for a future in the terribly sinful nation of Moab.
“God hates me,” she thought. Their business never took off in the foreign country of Moab. Her husband died unexpectedly. She was left to raise her two boys by herself, finding ways to feed them in a country where women had no rights and her children were too young to work.
When they were grown, her sons married Moabite girls. She knew it wasn’t “what God wanted,” but what could she do? Any chance of her grandchildren having perfect Jewish lineages had been obliterated, but her sons never had children. After ten years of marriage, both of her sons took ill and died too.
Naomi was left drained and desolate.
Did God really hate Naomi? Was he really so set against her?
Naomi believed that she had done bad, so she deserved bad. She believed she had to make all the right choices in order to be blessed by God. She hadn’t, so she blamed herself. And it was true, she hadn’t done anything right. She thought for sure God was against her. Naomi believed in “sowing and reaping.” This philosophy is about getting in return what you give, but getting an exponentially worse harvest of it. But Naomi’s thinking that she deserved bad because she had made bad decisions never did much to get her out of her bad situation.
God wasn’t against her at all. But Naomi was trapped by the Enemy in this cycle with the constant fear of making the wrong choice and then getting punished for it. This paralyzed her until everything she held dear in her world was destroyed. The cycle is merciless, but our God is a God of Mercy. So how does that work?
You can’t ever be good enough to get enough good to get you OUT of this cycle. There’s only ONE WAY. To get out of the pit of “I was bad, so I deserve this,” you have to change how you view God. Change your mind about who He is (HE IS LOVING), what He does (HE’S A RESCUER AND A RESTORER), and HOW He does what he does (HE DOES EVERYTHING WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS)! God doesn’t want you to live in the system that mistakes Christianity for Karma.
This cycle of ruin has many names in the Bible. It’s the merit system of The Law, the “Sowing and Reaping” philosophy, the Old Testament way of living, the Pre-Jesus relationship of “Do Good to Get Good.”
All the power of this cycle has been completely obliterated at the Cross.
Jesus fulfilled the Law.
Jesus absorbed the punishment.
So you are free to expect good things from God.
God’s not against you. He’s not out to ruin you. But what you believe about God can reek havoc in your life. He loves you dearly. He wants to rescue you from all your troubles, and then bless the socks off you. After all, *spoiler alert* that’s what ends up happening to Naomi!