“But Elimelech, who was Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. And they took wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They dwelt there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also, both of them, so the woman (Naomi) was bereft of her two sons and her husband.”
Ruth 1: 3-5
“Bereft of What You Need”
“I cannot say what loves have come and gone, only know that summer sang in me, a little while, that in me sings no more.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
What loss in my life has left me feeling deprived and bereft of what I need and love?
“Our losses include not only our separations and departures from those we love, but our conscious and unconscious losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power and illusions of safety.”
“Ah! The differences, whether the hearse stands before one’s own door, or one’s neighbor’s.”
Along with her husband and sons, Naomi left Bethlehem filled with high hopes and expectations. Exactly what they were we don’t know. From the Biblical account, we recognize the fact that it appeared, from an outward point of view, their lives would be better in Moab.
It didn’t happen this way! Who could have known, as this family left Bethlehem, what tragedy lay ahead. First, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then the Bible says Naomi’s two sons, who by now had married Moabite women, died, as well. Three deaths in a short time – three widows left to face life alone.
The words of Sara Teasdale, “The grass is waking in the ground, soon it will rise and blow in waves – how can it have the heart to sway, over the graves, new graves?” pulls on the scabs of my own heart as I remember the excitement my parents had when they moved to a new city and my father took a challenging new job which brought him great fulfillment. Yet within the time span of two short years, I found myself sitting on fresh cut green grass by a burial plot in a cemetery where my father was laid. Like Naomi, my mother found herself bereft of the love she had since she was only 12-years-old. Her friend and confidant was gone without warning. Alone like Naomi in a strange city, far away from family, my mother mourned the life she had lost. Author Christian McEwen describes the process of loss and mourning as a time of “extraordinary vulnerability. It is to be at the mercy of inside feelings and outside events.”
This was the scenario Naomi faced. As the Bible so poignantly describes, she found herself, “bereft of her two sons and her husband.” This archaic word “bereft” is a form of the word, “bereavement,” but it doesn’t just mean the loss of a loved one by death, it also means that you find yourself lacking a needed or expected element.
For Naomi, not only did she find herself bereft of love, but she was lacking support, safety and security. These are key elements we miss when divorce enters our life, not just death.
Day after day, and year after year, for ten years the Bible tells us, sorrow dogged Naomi’s trail. As L. N. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables, so touchingly penned, “No life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch (of sorrow) has been laid upon it.” So it was for Naomi. Sorrow had invaded her world. Left alone without family in a foreign land, barren and bereft, her thoughts turned to “The House of Bread,” Bethlehem, a place where she had family and friends. A place where there was not only food for the body but food for her soul.
Yet, right in Moab, while the tears of misery blinded Naomi’s eyes and ran like streams down her cheeks, to paraphrase the words of John Vance Cheney, it was the tears in her eyes that brought a rainbow to Naomi’s soul.
Today it may be raining in your life because you find yourself bereft of what you need. Keep walking through the rain for, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30: 5, Amplified Bible).
“God sometimes washes the eyes of His children with tears in order that they may read aright His providence and His commandments.”
T. L. Cuyper
“Be open to the night….
Pray with open hand,
Not with clenched fist.”
“Casting All Your Care Upon God,
For He Careth for You”
“Come, heavy souls, oppressed that are
With doubts, and fears, and carking care.
Lay all your burdens down, and see
There’s one that carried once a tree
Upon his back, and, which is more,
A heavier weight, your sins, he bore.
Think then how easily he can
Your sorrows bear that’s God and man:
Think too how willing he’s to take
Your care on him, who for your sake
Sweat bloody drops, prayed, fasted, cried,
Was bound, scourged, mocked and crucified.
He that so much for you did do,
Will do yet more, and care for you.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeets jesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
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