3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
Dear God, I have been guilty of something regarding Naomi, and I am sorry. I have judged her for feeling so rejected by you and the whole “call me Mara” thing she says a few verses later. But I have not appreciated the mourning of a woman now facing life alone. The intimidation of it–especially in a culture where women had very little agency or ability to provide for themselves. I mean, there is a reason men had multiple wives. One basic one is that the women needed someone to provide for them because they wouldn’t be able to provide for themselves.
But on a basic level, Naomi has experienced tremendous loss. It’s one thing to lose your husband. Even today, men and women get married with the knowledge that it’s likely one of them will die before the other. There is a part of our heart that is steeled for that. But to lose both of her sons too. Not only were they her hope for provision and sustaining life, but they were also her little boys. Even if they were men, then were her little boys. She lost them. She was a widow and a childless woman. Her pain must have been immense. Then there is the fear of not being able to survive that layered on top of that, but it all starts with the pain and mourning.
This is a pain with which I’m not very familiar. My wife has lost both parents and all but one of their siblings. Both of my parents are still living and only one of their siblings has died, and, frankly, I didn’t really know him. I’ve had pain as a parent, but I haven’t lost a child. Even when there is broken relationship or concern, there is still hope that things can work out. That you will do something.
Father, help me to be more sensitive to the situations of people like Ruth. Love them through me. Love my wife through me. We are approaching the one-year anniversary of her losing her father. Help me to not overlook the significance of that and be, through me, exactly what you need me to be.
In Jesus’s name I pray,