Archive for the ‘All Bible characters’ Category

tears-depressionAll of us will experience grief in our lives – through losses like homes or jobs or in other ways. We will all experience the pain of losing someone dear to us. Death is a fact of life.  For some, if left untreated, their grief will morph into serious depression. That’s where we find Naomi in  Ruth 1:19-22.

Naomi had lost everything. She lost contact with her extended family and support system when she travelled to Moab with her beloved husband Elimelech during the severe famine in Bethlehem. She lost her permanent home, replacing it with a nomad’s tent.  But, she grieved her losses and carried on with her life. She was able to cope because she still had her husband and sons.

While in Moab, her husband died. Once again, Naomi grieved her loss. She felt the loneliness of losing a spouse, partner and best friend. She wept and probably wailed as was the custom of her people. But Naomi was able to cope because she still had her two sons and hope for a future generation to carry on their family name. Her family still could be part of the promised Messianic line to come and her sons could once again possess the lands of their father when the famine was over.

But when both of her sons died without fathering sons, Naomi lost her ability to cope. Life became too dismal, too hopeless as she slipped from grief into the black pit of depression. She would have to sell her family’s holdings in Bethlehem because there were no sons to manage them. There was no one to take care of her in her old age.

As she traveled back to her extended family and support system in Bethlehem, she was too numb to feel the support everyone offered her. She admitted her depression, instructing her friends to call her “bitter” rather than “pleasant” as her name implied. With what little emotional energy she had left, she blamed God for her circumstances and curled up into a ball, waiting to die. No doubt she wondered often what she had done to make God so angry with her that he would take away everything that mattered to her.

Naomi’s story has a happy ending though. She got through her depression. Through the Bible narration, we see the Lord  at work in the background of Naomi’s story the whole time, orchestrating the events of her life to help her grieve while providing and caring for her. God made a way for Ruth to gather food for her mother-in-law. Ruth’s faith, love and prayers supported Naomi, especially when she couldn’t pray for herself.

As the story unfolds, Ruth marries Boaz and later through the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, a son is born.This child is a significant part of Naomi’s healing because at last she felt like God cared for her again. She let go of her anger at God and was able to trust him – understanding that he wasn’t angry with her.

Her story helps us to understand that we’re not totally alone as we go through our grieving process. No matter how deep our pain or extensive our loss, the Lord is always there working in the background  circumstances and events of our lives to help us grow into stronger, mature believers. Even when we cannot see him, he’s helping us, gently guiding us along the path to healing. In the end, Naomi’s hope is restored as God’s plan comes together.

We have the additional advantage of seeing into Naomi’s future – the Bible tells us that her grandson was indeed part of the Messianic line, an ancestor to Jesus. Wow! What a wonderful message to boost our hope as we go through difficult grief and depression.

Have you ever experienced loss like Naomi and given up hope? How did you cope? How did the Lord and others help you to heal?


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Has God ever challenged you with a simple question?
Fifteen years ago, I began researching the lives of women in the scripture to find any who may have experienced emotionally damaging events in their lives. I needed to find those who had experienced hardships and come through victoriously to bolster my courage during a difficult time of emotional healing.
I was about ready to gloss over Ruth’s …story because I thought there was nothing mentioned about shame and abuse. Then the Lord asked me a series of questions:salt_pillar
God: Have you considered Ruth’s life?
Me: No – it’s a story about love and loyalty, not shame and abuse.
God:  Where did Ruth come from?
Me: Duh! Lord, everyone knows she was a Moabite!
God: Well, where did the Moabites come from?
Me: (humbled that He kept after me) Okay, God, I’ll find out.
What I found blew me away! I found the answer in Genesis chapter 19.   Moab was the child of Lot and his elder daughter – a product of incest, a sin that was taboo in most cultures. I was perhaps made more palatable because of the prevailing attitude of sex among the inhabitants of Sodom and Gommorah where Lot’s two daughters were raised. In desperation and fear of the future when they fled from the destruction of their life-long home, the girls turned to what they knew, passing a destructive legacy to all the female descendants of  Lot who followed them.
It raised a question in my mind – what if Ruth had also been a victim of incest, given their culture’s views that such relationships were permitted or at least overlooked when certain situations called for it?
Learning about Ruth’s family heritage cast her  in a whole new light and helped me to look at her story through new eyes which led to the writing of my first novel, Daughter of Lot.
What questions has God used to challenge you?

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Who were the worst parents in the Bible?

This question posed on Facebook by a good friend of mine sparked a lot of discussion on her page as well as here at my house. Put your thinking caps on and get ready to share your thoughts with  me here!

One gal mentioned Adam and Eve as her first choice because they left their children (and the rest of their descendants) with a legacy of sin.

Dan mentioned Isaac and Rebekah who had a set of twins – Jacob and Esau. Their saga begins in Genesis 25:19.  The jealousy and favoritism shown by the parents caused all kinds of heartache and trouble for the boys during their childhood and still affects the descendants  of those two sons today.

My first thought was of Aaron, the brother of Moses who was appointed as the first high priest of Israel. Aaron and two of his sons Nadab and Abihu, were allowed to accompany Moses part way up the mountain when God gave the ten commandments, witnessing the glory of God.

Returning down the mountain some time before Moses, Aaron yielded to the people and helped them build the golden calf idol. I have to wonder if their father’s example influenced Nadab and Abihu to  disrespect God to the point where they deliberately offered “unholy fire” on the altar of incense later during their priestly work in the temple?  Their actions upset God resulting in their deaths at His hand.

Generations later, another high priest had trouble with his sons and was reprimanded by God for their behavior. Read the story of Eli and his sons in  1 Samuel 2:12-36.

The high priests weren’t the only ones whose children were influenced by their parents’ examples. Consider King David – the man beloved by God and his people. Yet, his family was one of the most dysfunctional in all of scripture. His firstborn son Absalom was extremely greedy, stopping at nothing to inherit his father’s throne. Another son, Amnon raped his sister, then cast her aside to suffer shame. Even Solomon, who started out so well and  received the gift of wisdom from God, eventually succumbed to the pressures of the royal life, turning away from God.

We only have to read the books Kings and Chronicles to see more examples of royal parents impacting their children’s lives in negative ways.

Needless to say, these negative examples tell us a lot about how not to parent our kids. Tomorrow we’ll check out some positive Bible examples of parenthood.

Perhaps you have someone else in mind? I’d love to hear your vote for the  “Worst Bible Parent of the Year” Award.

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