Heroes of Faith: Naomi

Biography by

Alena Ellis

Wilberfore Fellow

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” ~ Romans 8:17-21

Naomi: God Turns Bitterness to Blessing | 1010-1050 BC

Naomi holds a prominent place in the Bible. She navigates difficult situations, yet has faith and perseverance. She has a complex relationship with God, at times expressing frustration or feeling abandoned. In the book of Ruth, we find Naomi’s story, which revolves around her efforts to survive alongside her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

Naomi lived during the time of the judges and the prophet Samuel wrote the book of Ruth. Elimelech married Naomi and they lived in Bethlehem with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. At the beginning of the book of Ruth, a famine drives the Judean family to seek refuge across the Jordan in Moab, a foreign land. Following Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion’s deaths the dynamics shift, and Naomi is left alone. Despite Noami’s sons marrying Moabites wives, Orpah and Ruth, their deaths without offspring further diminish Naomi’s life. She transitions from wife to widow, from mother to childless, losing all identity. Naomi even saw fit to change her God-given name to “Mara” because of how hopeless and lost she felt.

Uncertainty flooded Naomi’s mind and she harbored anger toward God. However, when she ultimately surrendered to God’s will and gave her “yes,” she and her family were blessed by the Lord. Ruth ends up marrying a man named Boaz. This unity would signify redemption and deliverance for their family, and generations later, would yield deliverance for all people through the birth of the Messiah. As the Lord redeems her story, Naomi appears reluctant to be called Mara anymore. A new name is bestowed upon her: blessed. She used her faith in God and the strength He provides to be a selfless spiritual mother.          

Lessons From Amy’s Life:

The idea of being a spiritual mother encompasses Naomi. She coached her daughter-in-law Ruth through a discerning decision. Her commitment to God and provision through her grief displays a selfless act. She did not have to provide, yet she took care of others with true Godly love. Despite adversity in Naomi’s life, she remained obedient to the Lord. This obedience resulted in Naomi being able to lead Ruth to Boaz.

While obedience and selfless generosity are tremendous virtues, perhaps the greatest lesson in Naomi’s life is one of identity. Even while she struggled, Naomi knew her identity was in her Lord. Naomi’s faith brought her from the depths of anger and bitterness to a new life with filled with God’s blessings and fruition. Likewise, Christians today must answer, Who is our identity found in? Jesus Christ. “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (Ephesians 2:19, New International Version) Followers of Christ are not strangers but rather esteemed members of His household. By following Christ, Christians belong in God’s household and with His people.

Naomi’s life illustrates the power of God to bring beauty, belonging, and blessing out of bitter circumstances. Whatever circumstances individuals may find themselves in, Naomi’s story serves as reassurance that God is in control over every circumstance. Whether we feel it or not, He is always near and guiding us. Submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Naomi in Her Own Words:

Ruth 1:8  Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.”

Ruth 1:11  But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?”

Ruth 1:20-21  “Don’t call me Naomi, ” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Ruth 2:20  “The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped

showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.

Ruth 2:22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

Ruth 3:1  “Then Naomi, her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you that it may be well with you?’”

Ruth 3:11  “And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.”

Sources:

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/naomi-a-life-that-went-from-bitter-to-blessed.html

https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/core-christian-beliefs/identity-in-christ.html#:~:text=The%20Bible%20says%20that%20all,find%20their%20identity%20in%20Him.

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/naomi-bible#:~:text=Naomi%20is%20featured%20prominently%20in,that%20God%20has%20forsaken%20her.

About the Author

Alena Ellis
Wilberfore Fellow
Alena Ellis is a Wilberforce Fellow with a heart for Jesus and others. She is studying law with the intent to help others and advocate for justice. Her life mission is to be an anchor for others and love them like The Creator would. Seeking Gods’ will in all things is how she lives out her daily walk. “With God, all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26

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