I was reading the book of Ruth in the Bible the other day. It really touched something deep in me I want to share.

My mother died very young, before I had children. It seemed so premature and unfair, but like this story of Ruth, I have come to realize it wasn’t the terribly bad thing that it appeared to be.

Here is a brief recap of the story. Naomi is a married woman with two sons.  A famine hits her town (Bethlehem) and her husband moves her and her sons to a new place (Moab). When they get to the new place, her husband dies, but her sons find wives. Ten years later, the sons die. Naomi and her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth return to Bethlehem where the Lord has provided food to Judah again (and will eventually provide a whole lot for Ruth and Naomi).

But, when they get to Bethlehem, Naomi throws a huge pity party saying, “Don’t call me Naomi. 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.”

Naomi could have never imagined that a famine was a good thing, but it got them to Moab where Ruth enters their family. The death of her husband and sons seemed just too much, but it got her back to Bethlehem where Ruth could marry Naomi’s brother-in-law, Boaz. Naomi found herself back in her husband’s family, well taken care of and the great-grandmother of King David.

This story deeply reinforced in me that God uses bad stuff to break us out of our limited comfort zones to get us on the right path for the good work He has prepared in advance for us to do.

When my mom died, I was only 27 years old and very close to her. I was newly married and couldn’t image what my life would be without her. My husband and I lost several children to miscarriage, and our first live birth child, Mary Addison, was born having seizures and is mentally and physically challenged. My heart was truly broken.

However, one day in grief counseling, my pastor asked me, “How do you feel about your mother not being here to help you with Mary Addison?” Without thought I blurted out, “It’s the right thing that Mom is no longer here. I would have turned to her for help, instead of God and I would have been raising this child with her instead of making the relationship with my husband work. We would’ve been divorced by now.”  Wait! Who said that? Not me. I had never even considered any of that, but it was true. That’s when I knew God was at work in our seemingly terrible circumstances.

Yes, I had to give up my career. Yes, we have had to sacrifice financially, socially, physically. Yes, there have been a lot of nights on the floor in tears.

I could have never imaging that all these trials were good. Had I let tragedy and disappointment set the trajectory for my life, I would have never been open to all the good, the new thing that God was doing in me: strengthening my dependence on Him, cementing our marriage in a new, mature kind of love, teaching us how to be good parents, redirecting my writing skills for Him, blessing us with true friends. It’s all working together for good. His path is narrow and difficult. His ways are not our ways, but it’s His good will and purposes for us that will prevail.

 

Exodus 9:16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.