A few years back I was at a women’s bible study on the book of Ruth. This particular lesson was on Naomi, in Chapter 1.
Naomi and her husband, with their two sons, had moved from Bethlehem Judah to the country of Moab because of famine. However after settling in Moab, her husband died, leaving Naomi to raise their 2 sons alone in a foreign land.
Naomi’s boys ended up both marrying Moabite women, but after living in Moab about 10 years, both of them ended up dying as well! Naomi was now all alone, except for her 2 daughters-in-law.
But then Naomi heard that things had gotten better in her homeland of Bethlehem, so she decided to head back there – back to her family and friends.
She was lonely and hurting, and needed family around to help her overcome her grief.
During the bible study that evening, the leader asked us: “What do you do when things have fallen apart and you don’t know what to do next?”
As we all contemplated her question, I was reminded of when we lost our boys – particularly after we lost our son Matthew (e.g. Remember Through Your Pain…). Even though the pain was deeper than we could handle on some days, we knew that we had to keep doing what we knew we needed to be doing – in other words, keep attending church so we could be around other believers and hear God’s word.
I shared that with the group, telling them that one time it was so difficult that I had to get up right in the middle of the sermon and run away to cry my eyes out in the women’s restroom.
Yet here’s a fact: Even though my husband Gary and I at times didn’t really feel like we wanted to keep going to church, whether because of anger, grief or whatever we were feeling at any particular moment – we knew we had to keep doing it. We needed the familiarity of family and friends, similar to what we believe Naomi was feeling.
And, after forcing ourselves to do so week after painful week, we eventually felt God start to melt our hearts…
This also reminded me of another bible study I’d done years prior called Experiencing God. In this study, the author tells us we always need to keep doing what we know we are supposed to be doing – even if sometimes it’s hard.
The bible certainly tells us we need to stay in fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). We need each other!
It’s easy to “run away” from things that make you uncomfortable, isn’t it? When I’m in pain the last thing I want to do is be around smiling people. Because in my clouded frame of mind I tend to see all the smiling people living perfect lives with their perfect families, with nothing ever going wrong.
But does anyone really have that? No, I don’t think so.
If we start to run away everytime something happens which makes us uncomfortable or hurts our feelings, we’re going to end up all alone – just like Naomi was feeling being so far away from her home country with few friends or family around.
We need people with a like faith that can surround us, pray for us, and just hug us when we’re hurting.
Moving from the west coast to Texas a few years back, we knew no one. Yet God brought us family in our church who have stood by us, and pray for us when we need it. It’s been hard sometimes being away from my sister and her family – as well as friends that stood by us when we lost our sons – yet we’re so thankful that God always gives us brothers and sisters that continue to exhort us and encourage us when we’re down.
So never give up, friends. Keep on moving forward even when your feet feel like they’ve been planted in cement. There are people all around who really want to encourage you and love on you – if you let them.