I have studied the women/mothers in the bible a couple of times. However, the story of Naomi had never hit me the way it did, when I was studying it again some weeks ago. I think I was able to relate better because I am now a mom.
As I was studying the book, I wept. I imagined the pain that Naomi went through; losing a husband and then two children in quick succession, in a foreign land. Losing children in a familiar terrain is bad enough, how much more in a foreign land, with no support whatsoever to go through the agony and the pain. What shame! What pain! And so for some weeks now, my heart had been with Naomi. I had thought and thought about all that she went through and how she must have felt.
Naomi, for the first time since I met her within the pages of the scriptures, felt like my beloved sister. I began to wonder how many Naomis are out there, and my heart went all out for them. Just in the midst of all these, I saw this opportunity to write this series, moms in the bible, and of course, Naomi became my most beautiful choice.
Naomi’s Story from the Bible
The story of Naomi can be found in the book of Ruth.
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.Ruth 1:1-5 NKJV
Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and her children had relocated from Bethlehem to Moab because of famine. The story does not tell us whether they had heard from God or not, before making a move, but all we came to know was that Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons, who married the women of Moab, and then one after the other, died as well.
Truthfully speaking, relocation is not a big deal. Everyone relocates, whether from town to town, city to city, country to country, or even continent to continent, in search of greener pastures or for many other countless reasons. So, I would not conclude that it was wrong for them to have relocated. Life, however, dealt so badly with Naomi and there came a time when she arose and knew she had to go back home.
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.Ruth 1:6 NKJV
I only wondered what Naomi went through when she made that decision. She must have left Bethlehem, looking forward to going back full of joy and looking forward to sharing beautiful stories of all that happened in Moab with her friends at home. If she was like me, she must have rehearsed in her head, how she would walk down the streets of Judah, in a bid to show off all the luxury she got from Moab, but alas, the opposite happened. Here she is, going back seemingly empty-handed. No wonder, she asked her daughters-in-law; Ruth and Orpah to return. She knew she was going back to nothing but the pitiful stares from the women of Bethlehem.
Character Profile of Naomi
I admire Naomi a lot. Even though she found herself in such an unpleasant situation, she has got such a great character that a lot of us moms need to learn from.
First is her courage. It takes a courageous mother to go back as she did. She could have taken her own life, after all, there seemed to be nothing more that she was living for. She could have renounced her faith and just stick to Moab, to avoid the mockery she stands to get if she ever returns home, but she went back. She was willing to have a fresh beginning.
Second, her humility struck me as well. Naomi, for sure had a humble heart. She didn’t let pride prevent her from making the wise decision to get back home. The same country she left years ago now is flourishing, as the Lord had visited them. Yet, she who left as a result of famine is coming back empty-handed. Is that not a shame? She had so many reasons not to go back. What will the people say? They would make jest of her, even if they didn’t to her face, they would behind her.
At this point, however, she let go of her pride and her ego. She knew that was the best decision to take and she took it irrespective of what people thought about her. How many times do we as moms choose to feed our pride and ego instead of doing the right thing? How many times do we succumb to voices around us and refuse to take a bold step because of what people would think or what they would say before or behind us?
The third characteristic of Naomi that I found interesting is her kind heart. Naomi’s kindness is evidenced by the way her daughters-in-law stuck to her. Even after their husband’s death, they decided to stay and were willing to return with her to her country. She must have been an exceptional mother-in-law.
Her kind heart was further shown when she was about to leave and wanted her daughter-in-law to go back. Her desire for them to go back was so they could have a fresh beginning. She wanted them to be happy in life. She wanted more for them. She didn’t want them to be stuck with her for life. And what of when she eventually got back to Bethlehem with Ruth, she placed Ruth’s happiness above hers and was so keen about her future. Such a kind mother.
Lessons from Naomi
Naomi Sees God Restores
The story of Naomi mirrors that of restoration. A woman who lost her sons, and who told her fellow women to call her Mara, meaning bitterness, now at the end of it all, gained a son, who became the one through whom the world’s savior was born. It’s a beautiful story of restoration and it makes me see that no matter how bad a situation, the Lord is in control. He keeps on working all things for the good of all those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He can restore and bring out the good from the bad.
This message is especially to the grieving mom. It’s not a nice place to be at all. It’s a great hard time. You might not understand all that’s happening at the moment. We can’t grab all of God’s intentions with our myopic view, except he chooses to reveal to us, but be sure that he sees you, he knows all that you are going through and He is working things out. Restoration will come for sure. It might not come your way, but it will surely come.
Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.Psalm 30:5b NKJV
Naomi Lives for Others
Another important lesson I learned from the life of Naomi is that one way to overcome grief and live life generally is to shift the focus off oneself. You are happier when the focus is not on you but on someone else. When you live your life to bring smiles, and happiness to others, rather than just to yourself, there is a kind of joy that you feel. And that’s exactly what Naomi did, even in the midst of all that she went through, Ruth’s security became her life’s ambition, and not only was Ruth secured but Naomi was also joyful.
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?Ruth 3:1 NKJV
And is that not what moms do? We give all to our kids. We are very concerned about their welfare than ours. This is an encouragement for us that we are on the right path. In another’s joy, we tend to find our joy as well. And, we have satisfaction in passing along a culture of faith.
One last thought I gleaned from Naomi is that motherhood is not about having our biological children. Motherhood has different faces. You may not have your biological children but you could still enjoy the joy of being a mother. Naomi understood this and treated Ruth as her daughter. She also accepted Ruth’s son as her grandson. The bond between them was just so strong, that the women in the land noticed.
And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”Ruth 4:15 NKJV
Challenge from Naomi for Moms
The story of Naomi may not be like that of Deborah or Esther. Yet, she has got character and strength. What happened to her would have broken so many other moms, yet she lived many more years and her eyes saw the goodness of the Lord.
A challenge for us as moms is to be courageous like Naomi. There would be some times in our lives when we need to arise and take certain decisions. Such courage is needed to step out without fearing what the future may hold for us because we know the Lord owns the future and he owns us.
We thank you for loving us with everlasting love. I pray especially for grieving moms like Naomi, that you would fill their hearts with so much joy and you would help them to understand that you are in charge of their lives and that you will restore and redeem them. I pray that you will give them the courage to come out of that place of grief into the place that you have prepared for them.
Other Moms in The Bible Series:
Guest Blogger Bio: Oluwapelumi is a daughter of God, a blogger, a writer, and a speaker, passionate about being an example of good things and excellence to young women and ladies. Her mission is to live an authentic and purposeful life that will equip, challenge, and motivate other girls, ladies, wives, and mothers to love the Lord, their husbands, and children, live their lives on purpose and be a blessing to the world. She blogs on www.oluwapelumiboluwaji.com. She is also the creative director of Kids and Teens Bible World, a company that produces resources for children’s spiritual growth. Instagram: www.instagram.com/oluwapelumi.boluwaji