Ruth gets home from the field with 30 pounds of barley and leftover lunch which she shared with Naomi her mother-in-law. Naomi can’t hardly believe it. She asks for the full story. Ruth, full of excitement and gratitude, tells her all about it. This is where you begin to see some light in Naomi’s struggle with bitterness. She begins to put some pieces together. Not the whole story. Bitterness does not flee. But a glimmer of awareness of God’s grace and covenant faithfulness even in the midst of deep sorrow and sad circumstances.
Bitterness complicates life. As discussed yesterday (part one), bitterness settles into the heart and becomes the way through which a person views life. It influences the bitter person’s interpretation of life’s circumstances, others, and God. Essentially, bitterness affects one’s sight similar to the way a cataract affects vision or a dirty lens affects the way one views everything.
Bitterness in the soul toward God and other people sours the attitude, spoils everything else, and taints one’s outlook. What a person could see as one thing, once bitter, that person sees it as something completely different. In other words, bitterness of the soul affects the way one interprets everything else in life. With a modified, corrupt, and sour interpretation, the bitter person responds from that viewpoint which influences one’s attitude, thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Naomi misinterpreted her circumstances.
But God was working in and through it not just for her good but also for the good of all of us.
Naomi’s Bitterness of the Soul
Naomi asked everyone to call her Mara or bitter. She explained how God had afflicted her and upon returning home, she is empty. But why?
Naomi earned her bitterness, if I can use that term. Consider what she had been through over the years. A famine from which they moved in order to escape. A husband die. Two sons die. Two daughters-in-law who could not have children. Her life could be summarized under two great problems: no food and no future.
As each of us, the pressures of life and key events that leave us sad can produce a rich breeding ground for bitterness. No doubt life was hard for Naomi. She is a widow who lives with the loss of the three men in her life, who does not have any grandchildren to help her and carry on her name, who is too old to remarry in order to have more children, and has the responsibility of taking care of two daughters-in-law.
Possibly you are there today as well. Yes, your list looks different; however, your response is trending the same direction. The sadness of your soul impacts everything. In a similar way like Naomi, you might misinterpret and misconstrue your circumstances, God and those around you.