Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her (Ruth 1:14).
Naomi was bitter…she said so. In fact, she was grieving so bitterly that she wanted to change her name from Naomi which means “pleasant” to Mara which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). After the death of her husband and her two sons, she had little room for hope. In her dark valley of grief and despair, she felt as if God was punishing her and had dealt very bitterly with her (Ruth 1:13,20-21). As she began her journey back home to Bethlehem, she tried very hard to send away her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. She did not see any hope that she could provide husbands for her daughters-in-law, so she attempted to send them back to their families and their gods (Ruth 1:8-13,15).
But Ruth clung to her
That is such an impressive statement. Ruth clung to Naomi; she was fully ready to leave her family, her nation, her gods and religion. No matter how hard at this point Naomi tried to push her away, Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth was leaving all behind to be with Naomi and to come under the wings of the God of Israel for refuge (Ruth 2:11-12).
But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
That says something about Ruth. Naomi was all prickles and stings at this time in her life, but Ruth still clung to her. That is a true friend. This is what friends and family do. Ruth was loving Naomi through this grief even when Naomi was trying to push her away. Everyone noticed what Ruth did for her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:11), and everyone saw that Ruth was better to Naomi than “seven sons” (Ruth 4:15) even if during the great sadness Naomi didn’t see it.
That says something about Naomi. Just because Naomi at this point is bitter and not thinking clearly does not mean that she always was this kind of woman. I believe Ruth’s respect for and commitment to Naomi gives us a clear indication of what Naomi was really like beforehand. Keep in mind that they spent a decade together before this point (Ruth 1:4). If you continue into chapter 2 of Ruth you will see the old Naomi spring back to life again. This is something that we fail to recognize and appreciate at times, men. As people of God we all have our “moments,” and during those moments we can look ugly, but that does not define who we are as a person. All of God’s faithful people had those ugly moments (Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, etc.). Naomi was no different. She was overwhelmed with the grief and hopelessness of losing her husband and her two sons. God was patient with her, and He will keep working in her life until her eyes open again and she will see God’s marvelous hand and His loving care (Ruth 2:20).
So, men, let’s learn a lesson from Ruth and from Naomi and share these concepts with our kids. We can help our kids to see the value in being a Ruth to others. Also, we can help our kids to see that we all have our “Mara” moments, but thankfully God and His people love us through those moments.