Ruth 1:20-22

But she replied to them, "Don't call me 'Naomi'! Call me 'Mara' because the Sovereign One has treated me very harshly. I left here full, but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me 'Naomi', seeing that the Lord has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?" So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab. (Now they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.) Ruth 1:20-22

Ruth and Naomi have traveled to Bethlehem. It has been approximately 10 years since Naomi left Bethlehem with her husband and sons. I imagine the people of Bethlehem were all very excited to see Naomi after all this time. However, in her grief Noami seems to bring down the excitement somewhat in telling them to not call her Naomi, but to address her as Mara.

The name Naomi means pleasant. The name Mara means bitter. I can almost hear the pain in her voice as she speaks these words. I am sure she feels anything but pleasant at this time and simply feels the name Mara to be more descriptive of her present state of mind.

As she continues speaking she tells the townspeople that she has been treated harshly by God. She doesn't seem to be saying that she is holding a grudge against God, but is stating that she feels God has been harsh with her. I found it interesting to learn that here Naomi speaks of God as 'The Sovereign One' or as 'El Shaddai'. El Shaddai is the God who can both bless and judge. So, while Naomi felt that God had been harsh, she also recognized him as a God of many blessings.

Another quote I read as I studied this passage was "I don't like it; I certainly don't understand it, but I trust Him". This seems to fit how Naomi very well could have been feeling at the time she returned to Bethlehem. She certainly didn't like that her husband and her sons had died, I can't imagine that she would understand why God would allow it to happen, but she was continuing to trust God.

This whole topic seems to be one that so many, including myself, struggle with regularly. If God loves us, if God wants what is best for us, how can He allow such tragic losses in our lives. We all know that God has the power to heal from any affliction or change the course of events in a day, but He doesn't. Instead, He allows these losses to occur. It's a bit hard to wrap our heads around, isn't it?

I know I certainly don't have all the answers, but I certainly agree with Naomi on this one. Regardless of how we feel about what has happened, we must continue to recognize God as 'The Sovereign One' and we must continue to trust in Him.

It reminds me of the song "Blessed Be Your Name" written by Matt Redman. Here are some of the lyrics:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

While we will never know this side of heaven why certain things are allowed to happen, we can be assured that God never leaves us and he never forsakes us. And, I think that is probably exactly where our focus needs to be. Not on the why, but on the assurances He gives us. Besides, I strongly suspect that by the time we do meet God face to face in heaven that the "whys" won't be quite so important any longer.

7 Thoughts Shared:

Joyfull said...

What a beautiful and powerful post. We probably have all been with this kind of thinking. But as you shared, the only truth we can hold on to is God and sometimes we must make a deliberate choice to do that. This song you shared is so precious to me. Two years ago, my mother fell ill, my husband had neck surgery and my mother passed away, all in the space of 8 days! I chose this song to be song at her funeral, because regardless of our circumstances, Blessed is His name. When we choose to bless Him, He fills us with unspeakable peace and hope. Be blessed today!

Lynn said...


Thank you for this reminder today. I love the story of Naomi and Ruth. Have a fantastic week. Love you tons~

Shanda said...

"Blessed Be The Name" is one of my absolute favorite songs - I have seen my share of blessing and sorrows and know this to be true.

Thank you for sharing it so eloquently and sweetly!

Beth E. said...

When we are going through difficult times, it's easy to become so wrapped up in the misery of the pit we're in that we cannot see God leading us. He will help us out of that pit, but we have to look up and reach for him. :o)

Anonymous said...

"Besides, I strongly suspect that by the time we do meet God face to face in heaven that the "whys" won't be quite so important any longer."
Amen Melanie!! It's so hard when you are in the middle of tough times, but this perspective is so important.

Debra said...


I have never sang this song without my perspective being changed! I am always humbled by it.

Thank you for this post. It is so important to remember. Blessings to you!

Tricia said...

That is a great devotion Melanie! What a wonderful reminder that when we do not understand God and do not know why He does or allows things to happen, we can always trust Him. He is faithful and can never be unfaithful! How wonderful!