The name Naomi means “pleasant,” but by the end of the opening chapter of the Book of Ruth, pleasant was not an adjective Naomi saw fit to describe her life, having lost her husband and two sons. She was poor and had been out of her land, away from her people for about ten years. Even now, as she returned to her land and the people who knew her, she still did not have much hope for what would come. She had left Bethlehem full, but the Lord had brought her back empty—or so she believed.
For this reason, Naomi told her neighbors not to call her by that name any longer; apparently she could not handle the irony. Instead, they were to call her Mara, the same name for the place where God’s people had come across bitter water in the wilderness after Egypt (Ex. 15:22-26).
Naomi’s life was not pleasant—she had lost almost everything in her life that she loved—but she should have been equally concerned about the bitterness growing in her heart. That is something we can learn from Naomi here: We too are in great danger of allowing our circumstances to dictate the posture of our heart. When we succumb to bitterness, we fail to remember the constant love, grace, mercy, and kindness of God poured out on us in the person of Jesus Christ. Our days may be bitter, but the love of Christ should compel us to recognize that our condition before God is always pleasant.
How have you allowed your difficult circumstances to embitter your heart? What can you do to prevent that from happening in the future?