Post #2 in our series on Ruth
“Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. ” Ruth 1:3 (NIV)
In my last post “Famine” we read through Ruth 1:1-2 and were introduced to Elimelek, Naomi, Mahlon, & Kilion. Now in Ruth 1:3 after uprooting his family and moving them to a foreign country, we learn that Elimelek has died. As I read verse 3 all I can think about is Naomi.
Can you put yourself in Naomi’s place?
Here she is in Moab. She is away from her home, her family, her friends. She has no support. Her husband is dead. She is now living in a foreign land with only her two sons. I can imagine how she felt.
It makes me feel physically ill when I think about the possibility of losing my husband. Losing someone that we love hurts. When we are mourning, God wants to comfort us. He wants us to fall into His arms so He can hold us up. It is only by His strength that we are able to get through each day and begin to heal from a painful loss.
Psalm 9:9 gives a picture of God the comforter.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
Then again in Psalm 23:4
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
When I look at where Naomi was at this point, physically distant from God’s promise land & spiritually distant from God, I see how devastating the loss of Elimelek would have truly been.
Who was there to comfort her? Who could she confide in? Although she had her sons, as a mother & adult, I’m sure (as I would) that she felt that she had to “keep it together” for them.
“…They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.” Ruth 1:4
Then you see Mahlon & Kilion. Sons, who I’m sure, were mourning the loss of their father. They are now the heads of the household. They are to be responsible for their mother & inheritance. I can only imagine how heavy that responsibility felt to them.
When we grieve and are in a state of hurt, we as human beings have the tendency to lose our focus. Panic can set in. “How could this have happened?” and “What am I going to do?” tend to play on repeat through our heads. Too often we tend to look around us at that time instead of looking up to God for what we should do next.
Mahlon & Kilion looked around and came up with their own idea of what their next step should be. They married Moabite women.
Now, God had called the Israelites to not marry foreign women.
“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.” Exodus 34:15-16
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. ” Deuteronomy 7:3-4
But when you are not in God’s will, not in God’s Promised Land, forbidden fruits seem even more enticing. I imagine that Orpah & Ruth were incredibly beautiful. I bet Mahlon & Kilion couldn’t stay away from them. As they kept pursuing them, the knowledge of who they were and weren’t supposed to marry was pushed farther and farther to the back of their minds.
When I am out of the will of God this happens so easily it scares me. When I’m not in The Word daily, haven’t been in prayerful conversations with God, & haven’t been in intentional fellowship with God’s people it becomes easier to fall into temptation.
I can see poor Naomi, as she is still grieving the loss of her husband and in so much emotional pain, blessing these upcoming marriages just hoping that it will heal the pain and life can continue.
Unfortunately it did not. This disobedience only caused more pain.
“After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.” Ruth 1:5
God is like the parent that tells his child to stay away from the hot stove. We, as His children, are told that the stove is hot. We’re told not to touch it. Then one day we toddle over to the stove & it looks so bright and red. It looks different and new. We reach out to touch it & we get burned. Sometimes, as in the case of Mahlon, Kilion, & Naomi, we end up getting burned pretty bad.
After living in Moab for 10 years, marrying Orpah & Ruth, and failing to produce any children, Mahlon & Kilion die. Naomi is now not only left without any male heirs to take care of her, but also with two daughter in laws who are now young widows themselves.
We all will experience some level of loss in our lifetime due to the fragility of life. Death is not the only cause for feelings of loss. Whether we have lost a loved one, a job, a beloved pet, a friendship, or even a way of life, loss is real and none of us are immune. What does separate us is how we deal with it. As followers of Christ we should turn to The Healer, The Redeemer, The Ultimate Physician, The Prince of Peace, The Rock.
So what does the bible say we should do in a time of loss?
1.Know that it is healthy to mourn. Even Jesus Christ grieved & wept.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 tells us,
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”
We learn lessons when we grieve. We have opportunities for growth & it is a vital stage in the healing process. The shortest verse in the entire bible, John 11:35 “Jesus wept”, is a picture of Jesus as he mourned the death of a friend, Lazarus. Even though Jesus had the ability to bring Lazarus back to life (and he did) he still took the time to grieve.
2. Remember to call out to God when we are in pain. Dwell in the comforting shelter that only God can provide.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
As His child, God wants you to come to Him. We often feel that we can handle the pain by ourselves. God never called us to suffer alone. He wants to be our refuge & comfort.
3. We should have hope, because mourning & grief, while important, are only to be for a season.
“For his anger lasts only a moment but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
There is a season for every emotion, but seasons were not meant to last forever. We have hope through Jesus Christ and we should have an underlying sense of joy because of what He has done for us. “Oh death where is your sting?” The eternal hope given to us through Jesus Christ should serve as our beginning foundation in the healing process.
4. We should look to God and trust Him as he guides us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
God doesn’t expect us to understand why, He just calls us to trust & follow Him. That is the basis of true faith. God loves us and has plans for us through difficult and painful times. We may not understand how anything good could come out of our particular situation, but God tells us that He will make our paths straight.
I pray that if you are currently dealing with the loss of someone or something, you remember that God is yearning for you to fall into His arms. It is only with His strength that we can get through the deep valleys in our lives.
I invite you to share your heart in the comments below. Has God been a comfort to you in a time of grief? Do you have a favorite verse that has helped you? I would love to hear from you.