naomi’s joy

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I was up early this morning, thinking about Naomi. Actually, I was thinking first about baked beans and chili and how the smell of bacon puts me off but it sure tastes good at five a.m. Beans in the oven, chili simmering stovetop, and dishes draining on the counter, I sat down with a piping hot cup of coffee just in time to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise. And that’s when Naomi came to mind.

I have been reading the book of Ruth this week. It’s like comfort food from scripture. I read it over and over, using different versions, soaking it in. I love how God so powerfully demonstrates his love in four short chapters.

Here’s the skinny: Naomi and her family are refugees. She loses her husband and both sons in their sojourn to escape famine. She has two daughters-in-law and no retirement plan. Her future looks bleak; she is bitter and depressed. Naomi decides to return home. One daughter-in-law determines to stick with her.

Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law is epic. Her resolve is like a soothing balm to Naomi’s aching heart as they trudge the long, dusty road home together.

Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God, my God. Ruth 1

Naomi didn’t know what fate might await a washed up old widow woman or her young widowed companion. She didn’t know that God had a plan for their well being. She didn’t know that they were part of his master plan for redemption. Wounded by hardship and compromised by circumstances, she couldn’t see the end of her trail. She could hardly see where to place her next step. But she trudged on, thankful for Ruth and not to be alone.

Naomi couldn’t know that her heart and arms would be full to overflowing soon, that Ruth would marry again and bear her grandson. She didn’t know that God was setting them up for a happy-ever-after, rewarding Ruth’s faithfulness and restoring Naomi’s joy.

May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done. Ruth 2

This morning, I wondered in the sunrise: Did Naomi catch a glimpse of good fortune? Did Ruth find hope for her future? There must have been a glimmer, something to draw them onward, homeward? There must have been a can’t-help-but-hope sunrise or two along the way.

If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me. …
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
Psalm 139

I am thankful for the gifts in a sunrise, for the surge of hope that comes with the triumph of glorious early morning light. It rises up in us as inky black gives way to rosy, ripe citrus hues. Our spirits lift on the updraft; our view shifts to the brightening horizon. We can’t know what the day or the journey holds but we can know that anything is possible, this new day.

I can appreciate now, more than ever, that it was a wee grand-boy who restored Naomi’s joy. Hope fulfilled to overflowing!

~ René Morley

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