Focus Scripture: Ruth 1:19-21
It was a homecoming. Naomi had traveled to a distant land with her husband and sons and had built a life there. Her sons had taken wives. Life was taking shape and forming around her as life does. She was probably counting on grandchildren to come along any day. Her life was full.
And then it wasn't. Her husband and her sons died. There were no grandchildren and no one to be her provider or protector. Widows were not treated kindly in those days--that's why God so often admonishes the people to care for the widows and orphans. And now Naomi was among them.
As she returned to her hometown, the very small town of Bethlehem, Naomi's old friends rush out to greet her. "Naomi!" they exclaimed, so happy to see her and hear all she had to tell. But instead of regaling them with stories she says, "don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara (meaning "bitter"), because I have lost everything."
That wasn't quite what her friends were hoping to hear. I can imagine them sharing sympathy. Have you ever been welcomed home during a time of trial or suffering?