Our Sarah Sisterhood Bible study again yesterday had a powerful discussion about God’s grace working in hearts of Bible women. One point that struck me hard was how God does not edit out lament, even wrongful accusation lament from the Bible. Read the verses, what a commentator has to say, and then a few thoughts. The gospel gives hope for our hearts even when they are not soft!
Ruth 1:20–21 (NIV)
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty 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 me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
“God sometimes takes away the things that have become precious to us because they are supporting us in our life of sin and hardness of heart toward him. Alternatively, he sometimes takes away things that were good in themselves because he wants to use our lives as a powerful testimony of the sufficiency of his relentless grace in the midst of our weakness and loss. Invariably, though, he has not brought these trials and losses into our lives because he hates us or is seeking to afflict us, or to get even with us for our sin. On the contrary, if we are his children, he loves us and through this loss wants us to receive something far more precious than all of the trinkets to which we become so desperately attached. He wants us to give us more of himself.” Iaian Duguid
This is all true. But notice the biblical narrator leaves Naomi’s statement in. He doesn’t edit it out, nor does he insert this commentary. Can we leave it? Can we recognize that the Author of our lives and the Author of Scripture knows and loves our hearts enough to see the bitterness and hear the accusations and still send his Son to die for these same hard hearts? This is what the Book of Ruth, and indeed the entire Bible is about — the God who changes our hearts from bitter to soft; who allows us to be empty that he may fully fill us.