Recently, I learned about the way flowers become a certain color. I had always assumed (due to my “black thumb” as I call it) that flowers were assigned a certain color through their DNA. While there are flowers that will always stay one color, there are also flowers that will change depending on the soil they are planted in. Tulips can vary drastically in color, which mostly depends on the acidity of the soil in which they were planted.
After studying the first chapter of Ruth, my small group and I discussed the power of names. Naomi clearly states that life has made her bitter. Her identity has changed from pleasant to bitterness (v.20). In a hard season of life, or after over ten years of pain in Naomi’s case, we are calloused by hardships. Perhaps Moab was the wrong place to move to during the famine. Perhaps her husband needed to inspire trust in God instead of acting out in fear. The God we know is a jealous God, but He is also gracious to us. Perhaps all three men would have died no matter the location and Ruth was saved by God’s grace through her first marriage. God can use the devil’s plans for our blessing. Praise to God!
As I ponder the last few years of my life and the many lessons I have learned (and am still learning) bitterness and faith continue to come through my vocabulary. We all experience hardships in this broken and hopeless world acting out of selfish ambition and fear. Naomi, without Ruth’s companionship and God’s intervention, would have remained bitter. New soil allowed her to rejoice in the pleasant new life she was about to live. Five years prior, could she have willed herself out of the situation or prevented the future from happening? We would like to think she had any control over the situation as it gives us right to try to control the outcomes in our life. Yet, we often find most of life to be outside of our own control.
How long will we sit in sour soil? Only God knows. But we can be certain of His power to restore even the most bitter of situations. Sister-friend, you are allowed to feel bitter in life. Feel it deeply and mourn for the perfect life God once had in mind for His people. Take time to mourn your losses and be angry at the sin of others. Then, remind yourself of God’s truth. He knows when the harvest comes after the famine. He knows how and when to redeem your story in a way that brings others into the kingdom. Sometimes, we will spend years sobbing while we listen to worship music, with the expectation that one day we will dance on new ground. We can only speak truth into our bitter situations when we look at them in raw honesty and vulnerability with a God we can trust.
Motherhood and Loss
In light of Mother’s Day tomorrow, I know many women and families mourn. Women will mourn the children they cannot have. Lost children will sear scars into the brain and lost mothers will be wept over. My own mother-in-law will be mourned over for the second Mother’s Day. Other mothers will mourn their expectations as yet another Mother’s Day is spent unappreciated and overwhelming. They will get up and hit the floor running, as they do every day, with no rest in sight.
I pray we will be kind to each other on Mother’s Day in remembrance of the God who reaches us with gentleness and kindness. He knows what He made us for and He knows every hurt we have endured and continue to endure. May we run to Him with every bit of sour soil as He comforts us through companionship and begins to create a new soil full of harvest for us to find rest. You can persevere, and I thank God for the moments of boldness we find to believe in Him and continue on through the hurt, and the boldness to look the pain in the face so we might see God restore it.