When have you found it difficult to trust God? Perhaps in deeply painful circumstances, when you simply can't fathom what good God is doing? Just like Naomi, then...

Read Ruth 1 v 3-13

  • - How did Naomi view the death of her husband and sons (see verse 13)?
  • - Why did she decide to return to Bethlehem (v 6)?
  • - Why did she believe it was better for her daughters-in-law to return to their non-Israelite homes (v 11-13)?
  • - What's right, and what's wrong, with Naomi's view of God at this point?

Right words

Naomi calls God "the LORD," or "Yahweh" in Hebrew; literally, "I AM" (see Exodus 3 v 14-15). It's the name by which God chose to reveal Himself to Israel, for ever linked with the covenant He had made with them (see Genesis 17 v 3-8; Exodus 19 v 3-6).

When Naomi uses God's covenant name, it should remind her that, as one of the people of Israel, she is God's treasured possession--proved by God in history when He miraculously rescued Israel from Egypt.

Wrong actions

But although Naomi still believes that God shows kindness--at least ot others (v 8-9)--she doesn't encourage her daughters-in-law to seek God's blessing in God's place (Israel). She sees the problems they will face in Bethlehem (v 11-13), but fails to trust that God can rescue them. Instead, she urges them to return to their pagan homes.

As for herself, Naomi believes that God is now against her (v 13), perhaps concluding that by leaving Israel and disobeying God, she has destroyed any hope of further blessing (compare Exodus 19 v 5).

And yet... like the prodigal son in Jesus' parable (Luke 15 v 11-24), Naomi returns to Bethlehem because of what she has heard about the LORD (v 6).

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TIME OUT

Read Psalm 77

This member of God's people feared that God had turned against him (v 7-9).

  • - What did he look back to (v 10-20)?

Read Romans 5 v 8; 8 v 32-39

  • - What can we look back to as God's people today?

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PRAY

Pray for prodigal children you know, who have wandered far from living faith in God. Pray that they'd return--and pray that God would use your actions and words to bring them back to life with Him.

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This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

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