And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
Naomi is such a contrast to Ruth and her attitude. Naomi let a bitter circumstance make her bitter. She allowed what happened to her to change her from Naomi to Mara. She went out full, but did she really come back so empty? Had she truly lost everything? The loss of her husband and both of her sons would certainly have left her feeling very empty. It was a bitter thing to face those losses and to experience the pain and grief of them. But she still had Ruth, who would not abandon her. She had a home to return to. She had God, though she blames Him for her affliction.
A shift in perspective could have changed everything for her. She could have been thankful for what she did have, that God had spared her and allowed her to return to a place where He would provide for her. But how often do we make that choice to be bitter? Don’t we too often look more at what is missing, what’s been taken away, what we lack than at what we do have? Aren’t we more ready to bemoan what we’ve lost than appreciate what we still have left? We need that same change in perspective that Naomi would have benefited from.
Naomi would come to see that God would come through for her and bless her more than she could have hoped for. She would one day soon experience a fullness much sweeter than she would have thought possible. And God often uses the bitter experiences of our lives to prepare us for something else, to teach us an important lesson on faith and the goodness of God, and to demonstrate His love toward us. Our painful experiences are not in vain. Those things of our past that we may regret so strongly can be transformed from something bitter to something sweet.
What is our attitude when things don’t go the way we want them to? How do we respond to God when we feel He has wronged us somehow? Let’s not allow bitterness to intrude into our relationship with the Lord. Let’s not see Him as being mean or spiteful toward us when He has our best interests at heart. Let’s not blame Him for our sorrows if our poor choices have led us down a bitter path. Instead, may we be willing to humble ourselves before Him and ask for His mercy and trust Him to work in our situation.