20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me;the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
This is a hard verse. Naomi acknowledges her misfortune in the providence of God. “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty….The Lord has afflicted me….The Almighty has brought misfortune on me.”
We do not want to associate God with any hardship in our lives. We have a sense that if God loves us then nothing bad will ever happen to us.
The witness of Scripture is not this simple. In Job, it is the “arrows” and “terrors” of the Almighty against him (6:4). In John, Jesus goes to the cross according to the will of the Father.
So with Naomi, is there any way we can reimagine hardship and suffering within the purposes of God? As the book of Ruth unfolds, we’ll see how God uses a bad situation to bring great good (from this broken family comes the Messiah!).