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At The End of Your Rope Part 2

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The Lord works things out for good who love Him

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Introduction

We come back to our story and see that Naomi is in a really dark time in her life. My guess is that we can all relate to that reality; We’ve all been in really dark times at one point or another. We’ve all been in the valley and some of us have had to confront the valley of the shadow of death, if not physically than maybe spiritually or emotionally. When the only thing you can see or feel in your life are clouds so heavy that it seems that no light or joy could ever possibly find its way through.
We’ve all been there. There was a hymn written in 1879 that looked forward to an unclouded day.
O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
We all look forward to that. One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is found in Revelation
Revelation 21:3–4 NIV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
R
Reading this portion of scripture… believing this portion of scripture gives me hope because I’ve been at the end of my rope. I’ve experienced some clouds. I’ve been in that valley that we all know so well.
Naomi was certainly in that place. Her husband Elimelech had died. Her two children had died. She was living in a foreign land and her sons had married women they were not supposed to before they died.
So here’s Namoi in her darkest time but it was in her darkest time that she received good news:
Ruth 1:6 NIV
When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.
Ruth 1

Divine Grace

So what we have is divine demonstration of God’s grace during the darkest time in Naomi’s life.
The New American Commentary: Judges, Ruth (1) The First Interchange (1:6–10)

First, it was a gift from God that in the midst of her grief and pain Naomi was able to hear good news.

The New American Commentary: Judges, Ruth (1) The First Interchange (1:6–10)

Second, Naomi heard Yahweh had intervened on behalf of his people

Verse 6 is a cloud breaker
The New American Commentary: Judges, Ruth (1) The First Interchange (1:6–10)

Third, the object of the divine favor is identified as ʿammô, “his people,” the nation of Israel. The term expresses the normal covenant relationship between deity and people

The New American Commentary: Judges, Ruth (1) The First Interchange (1:6–10)

Fourth, Yahweh had given his people bread. The reader of Hebrew will recognize the play on the name Bethlehem. The “house of bread” is being restocked.

First, it was a gift from God that in the midst of her grief and pain Naomi was able to hear good news.
Why is this important?
Second, What Naomi had heard was that God had intervened on behalf of His people and came to their aid.
Third, if God was providing food that meant that He had sent rain indicating that He had not forgotten or rejected His people.
Why is this important?
Because in her darkest time in her life, God broke through. She hadn’t been rejected. She had not been forgotten. All was not lost. God was calling her to come back home.
Now… often times when we think of a great redemptive moment we kind of picture it as this beautiful moment and in many cases it is. We have the example of the prodigal son comes to his senses, humbles himself and is received in the most loving and dramatic moment by his father.
And then we have Naomi
Ruth 1:20–21 NIV
“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 1:20
What is this passage? It’s almost hard to read its so… harsh. What do we do with this?
I think there is a key here in this passage that sheds a light on Naomi’s mind here
She was a bit out of focus and I think we can be too sometimes so I want to do something that might help realign us this morning and I’m going to ask you to look this passage again in a new way
I went away… the Lord brought me back....
I removed those words to highlight Naomi’s problem and the problem was simply this: she was missing the point.
I love the Bible because although its an old Book its still a relevant book filled with broken people making bad decisions, good decisions, or bad and good decisions and a loving God who lovingly calls us all back to Him to not only forgive us but to help us sort it all out.
He wants to bring healing and restoration
Much like the prodigal son, Elimelech and Naomi had wandered off. Their reasons were different, the wandering was the same.
Much like the prodigal son,Naomi made the decision to return.
Unlike the prodigal son who returned in broken humility and knew he had wronged his father, Naomi returned thinking she had been wronged by God.
What’s the point here?
The point is that it is more important to return and to place your life in the hands of a loving forgiving God rather than waiting and trying to sort it all out yourself.
God received both the broken, humble prodigal son and the broken, bitter, Naomi.
He restored them both because each of them when at the end of their ropes made a good decision to return to God.

Namoi Lost So Much

It’s true that Naomi did lose a lot. She lost her husband, which given the point in history that meant
that she lost her protection, and her security.
She lost her sons presumably before they were able to give her grandchildren or help her secure her future.
She lost her dignity. Returning to Bethlehem was a good choice, but it wasn’t without human cost. She would have been embarrassed upon returning home, being recognized as a failure or a victim.
It sounds like she and her husband left with a great deal of wealth and she's returned with nothing.
The question that always comes up is why? Why did she lose all that she lost? Why did she suffer?
The questions of why are always the toughest, but I think at least in Naomi’s case we have enough here in scripture to cue us in.
By Naomi’s own bitter confession, she was a woman that was content with all the wrong things
“I went away full”
Elimelech and Naomi had enough wealth to go a survive in a land they were not called to nor commanded to go to. Someone last week thought I was too hard on Elimelech, but there is no indication in scripture that he was told to go to Moab or anywhere else, but they did. They reasoned that the wealth they had accumulated would be enough to help them ride out the famine. This may have been true in the physical sense, but spiritually speaking, we lack the resources to ride out a spiritual famine. But that is exactly what Naomi was wrestling with; her misplaced contentment on wealth rather than on God had caused a spiritual famine in her. Had she not made a good decision and recognized God’s grace in calling her home, she would have died in Moab just like her husband and sons. But she wasn’t able to or ready to listen to God when she had it all, in fact it took losing it all to eventually hear the voice of God calling out to her and speaking a message of grace.
Anyone here know someone that has to learn things the hard way? Anyone here know its you?
I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is and it seems to me that the more we trust on the resources of this world, the harder it becomes to hear His voice and the further we go from His presence.
Jesus warned about it, Paul warned about it, its a real danger.

Naomi Gained More than She Lost

For those of you familiar with the story you might be frustrated and wondering why I haven’t touched on Ruth yet. Here’s a little snippet to help set the stage for next week and really to bring our story home this morning.
Ruth 4:15 NIV
He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Ruth 1:15 NIV
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
Look at what the women in Bethlehem said about Ruth, a Moabite woman!
Ruth1:15
What an incredible statement to be made!
Better than seven sons? Considering their culture the weight of that statement is tremendous.
The credit for Naomi’s blessing was rightly given to God
Ruth 4:14 NIV
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!
So Ruth was a blessing for Naomi
A more subtle blessing is the strong women in her community. It seems to me that they continued to encourage her as she struggled.
The final blessing for Naomi was the birth of her grandson that she was blessed to raise.
And we know because we’re on this side of history that this grandson was the father of Jesse who was the father of David, the second greatest king Israel ever had and second only to Jesus whose lineage is also traced back to Naomi.

Bad Decisions Good Decisions

Romans 8:28 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans
There could be a number of take aways from the message this morning but there are just a few that I want to emphasize
God’s grace is always extended to us
it takes us being at the end of our ropes or at the end of ourselves to realize it
God did not compel or force Naomi or Elimelech to either leave or return
They were as we are: beings of free will
God never stopped providing for His people in the famine
They certainly struggled, but they survived
It was better to eat of the meager crops of Bethlehem than gorge in the abundance of Moab
God is
Romans 8:28 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God can restore the most broken
God can restore the most bitter
But if you look carefully at verse 28 you’ll notice that He does this for those who love Him.
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