“But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” Ruth 1:20
Floods, lightening strikes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, volcanos, droughts, etc. When I was a boy it was very common for news agencies and insurance companies to categorize this kind of an event as an “act of God.” Today we’re much more likely to use a different, and in my opinion a much more accurate, name for these occurrences. We simply call them natural disasters.
A natural disaster is a destructive, naturally occurring event. If we could link the cause of the event to human activity we wouldn’t call it a natural disaster. If the scale is large enough it might be called an ecological disaster but in order to be a natural disaster it needs to have not been started by human activity.
Naomi, as she returns to Bethlehem is greeted enthusiastically by her old friends and as they all gather around her to welcome her back home she tells them not to call her Naomi any more. Instead, they’re to call her Mara, which means bitter. And then she tells them why this new name is more appropriate for her, “…for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”
Naomi is blaming God for her poverty and the loss of her husband and sons.
Friends, while scripture does record several events where God intervenes using disasters as a form of punishment these interventions are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to God’s activity in our lives. God is far more active protecting us, and blessing us, and trying to lead us to him. The problem is we’re so used to living within the bubble of Gods blessing that when our sinful actions burst that bubble and lead us into disasters we like Naomi are prone to blame God for our pain.
“Why is God doing this to me?” “Why did God let this happen?”
Friends, if your life is bitter it’s far more likely that you, or someone other sinner, is the cause of the bitterness than God. Or it may be that what you’re experiencing is part of the natural erosion of the worlds stability and resilience as the presence of sin has its effect.
But while God doesn’t deserve the blame for the bad things that happen in your life it’s probable that he does deserve the credit for a good share of the blessings that are still a part of your life. For Naomi, Ruth was the blessing through whom God continued to daily shower her with comfort, companionship, and loving care.
We need to stop blaming God for the trouble we get ourselves into, and the difficulties life with other sinners sometimes brings. Instead we need to continually take stock of all the blessings God sends us everyday in this crazy, sinful world.