Elimelech and his family lived in the ‘house of bread’ (Bethlehem), but they would soon experience a lack of bread. If they had humbled themselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, God would have heard them, forgave their sins and healed their land, but instead they just left the city. The scriptures never said that the Lord spoke to Elimelech as he did with Abraham to leave his home. This was Elimelech’s choice and Naomi came in agreement with her husband to go to Moab, but while they were there, Naomi’s husband and two sons died.
One of the hardest decisions to make when you’re facing something hard is whether to leave or to stay. There is a possibility that Elimelech prayed to God, but maybe because things weren’t happening quick enough, he thought it would be in his family’s best interest to leave. If he prayed, it was good that he prayed for God to visit them, but the problem was that he didn’t wait for the visitation. While Naomi was in Moab, she heard that God had visited the people in Bethlehem and gave them bread. Although her family had passed away, God allowed her to live to hear about it so that she could return to her home and be a part of the blessing, but Naomi was bitter.
I went out full and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why call me Naomi seeing the Lord has turned against me and the Almighty has afflicted me? (Ruth 1:21).
She was disappointed because life didn’t turn out the way she thought it should. What she didn’t realize was that she may have had what she wanted, but she didn’t have everything she needed. All she could see was her losses and she complained about what she was going through, but God still loved her. Ruth 4:15 tells us that Naomi was loved and she was trying to push love away, but the love of God wouldn’t leave her alone. The love of God protected and watched over her, kept her mind those ten years she lived in Moab and returned her safely back to her home. She survived in what her husband and her sons died in. Despite how she felt about God, He didn’t change the way He felt about her. God still had a plan and Naomi was a part of that plan.
The psalmist said, ‘Before I was afflicted, I went astray’ (Psalm 119:67). To go astray means to get off the right path or to get away from what is good and right. She didn’t understand that it was good for her to be afflicted. She got out of place, but affliction came to put her back in place and it was in that place where God would redeem and restore her. She left Bethlehem seeking bread, but God never intended for man to live by bread alone. It was good for her to return home empty. That just means that she came to the end of herself. Now that she was empty, God could fill her with Himself. Naomi did what she wanted to do. Now it was time for God to do what He wanted to do for her and her family all along.
Don’t become bitter about a situation that God is going to use to make you better. You may have lost some things, but just like Naomi, your victories will be greater than your losses. Stop mourning over what you lost. Stop mourning over what didn’t work out. Naomi mourned over that which was sickly and pining away (Mahlon and Chilion), but God had better in store for her. He gave her a grandson (Obed) who the scriptures said would be a redeemer, restorer of her life and a nourisher of her old age.
So what if things didn’t work out as YOU planned? It’s okay. God has a plan and it’s better than yours.