Don't call me Naomi

Nobody is lonely his or her entire life. What creates inner bleakness, however, is when things you love are taken away from you. When people you trusted betray you. When people you depended on take advantage of you. When people you loved die on you.

In a time of famine, an Israelite woman named Naomi, along with her husband and two grown sons, needed to emigrate temporarily to find food. They found food in the land of Moab, and the boys found Moabite wives. Then—in a ten-year span, all three men died.

A sad widow told her daughters-in-law that she had decided to go back to Israel: “‘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’” (Ruth 1:20,21). The rest of the book tells the powerful story of how one of those daughters-in-law, Ruth, stayed with the older woman, who in time got to hold a grandson on her lap.

Sometimes we are so full of our own troubles that we have no ears to hear the sighs of loneliness and pain from people around us. Ruth had her own sorrows—she was a widow too—but she spent some energy on the older woman. God loves it when broken people serve other broken people. That’s how he heals the broken. That’s how he fills the hearts of the lonely with joy.

Today is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day. Who needs you to do just that?

Pastor Mark Jeske brought the good news of Jesus Christ to viewers of Time of Grace for 18 years. He is currently the senior pastor at St. Marcus Church, a thriving multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.

 

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