Mara: Bitter (definitely not pleasant)
The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. Then Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
Ruth 1:2-5 (NLT)
Three short verses. Three big changes. I'm always bemused by the story tellers, how they cram our lives into short sentences, short paragraphs, squeezing a life time into a few pages. I doubt if all the journals in the world would be enough for me to pen the pain that came with losing my husband and having to raise two sons on my own. Not only on my own but in a strange land without family support. Who was to teach the sons to be men? To be husbands? To be fathers? But it was ok, life dealt me a terrible hand but I had my boys. Or so I thought. The day we buried Chilion, I didn't cry. All my tears had been spent at Mahlon's funeral. Could it be true that my world had drastically changed in such a short period of time? Were my sons really gone to the land of no return?
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara,for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”
Please don't judge me. I had to call it as I saw it. For my life had neither been beautiful or pleasant and at that point in my life all I could see was bitterness. We left for Moab full of dreams, dreams of prosperity, dreams of provision, dreams of seeing our grandchildren and bringing them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And I returned with nothing. But no, not nothing for although at the time I couldn't see it. I came back with Ruth, my daughter and my friend. In her I saw the sermons I had taught about Yahweh, about His provision and His love. I saw her live the messages I had preached about His ability to take you through the changing scenes and seasons of life because He himself was unchanging.
To you dear woman reading this excerpt, you may have chosen to allow yourself be defined by the curveballs that life has thrown your way. Maybe you haven't verbalised it, maybe you've never told anyone that deep down you call yourself 'Shame' or 'Failure'. And yes, you may have cause to call yourself 'Mara' and turn your back on Him, the One who loves you most. But from someone who has been there and done that I want to encourage. I can because I know. I know what it is to be disillusioned, to be depressed, to ask God why he let you see a new day, to see the house of cards all come tumbling down.
Listen to me. Hard times are not a sign that God has forgotten about you. He never forgets about you. It takes time to heal from any type of hurt. You're not just going to jump out of bed and be all better. However I need you to focus on the goodness of God to you. Make Him your best friend. Tell Him where and how it hurts. Don't allow life make you bitter. Take it from a widow, He reaches deep down where no husband could. Open your eyes, there's a 'Ruth' somewhere who reminds you of who you used to be. Life isn't about not facing storms. Its about going through them and coming out on the other side. You may never understand why what happened did but don't lose your faith. You need to do something, you can't stay where you are. I had to go back home..to Bethlehem, where the real bread was. Only you knows where your Bethlehem is.
I'm glad no one ever called me Mara, its good to surround yourself with good people. All over the world, people still talking about me. Calling me a model 'mother-in-law' and all. Thing is I never set out to be this great woman of faith and I'm happy my lowest points were recorded for all to see. Its was never about me, always about Him. If He can use me, He can use you too.
We'll always have 'Mara' situations and circumstances but always remember you are 'Naomi' despite it all.
Keep winning with God.