Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Now What, Naomi?

Have additional losses compounded in your life due to your husbands death? It's grievous to realize the variety of roles he filled---friend, lover, advisor, father, bread-winner, spiritual leader and even more mundane things like handyman, car buyer and jar opener! These are losses that compound and complicate grief. What can we do about them?

When you're ready, begin to list these losses. Talk about them with friends, a grief support group, a counsellor or pastor; list your losses in prayer or journaling, or email comments or prayer requests to this blog. Reaching out will begin to bring some of God's people and God's help into your life--that's what happened to a widow in the Bible. Her life and example can bring hope to widows today.

Naomi was a woman who experienced the cold and harsh realities of loss. Scripture simply listed her losses in Ruth 1 as follows:

1) Her husband, Elimelech, died.
2) Her two sons married foreign women, meaning Naomi would never see her homeland again.
3) Her sons then died.

Three little words sum up what happened to Naomi. Open your Bible and see for yourself in Ruth 1:3 and 1:5:
She was left.
Their clinical starkness startled me with the shock, despair and helplessness she must have felt. Three little words were the end result of her lifetime of nurture and love for her husband and sons. Doesn't seem right, does it?

Her sons' deaths were a sweeping and final devastation that stripped off her purpose for daily life and hope for her future. Her chances of survival were bleak. The original Hebrew manuscripts deleted her name and referred to her as only the woman to show how completely her life was blown apart.

I could identify with Naomi, can you? My life as I knew it would never be the same. I stood by myself and looked at the shattered bits and pieces. I was left to raise our children and make important decisions alone. I was left without the comfort, security and daily routine of marriage to the man I loved. I was left to face a future I didn't want. I understood why the original Hebrew took out her name and just called her “the woman.” I felt like half a person and secretly pondered my value and purpose.

Looking at Naomi was like looking at a mirror. The woman looking back at me was empty and abandoned. She was left, and so was I. In my identity with her, Scripture illuminated my losses in sheer, alarming pain. In losing my husband I lost my best friend, my lover, my spiritual leader, my children's father, my comfort, security and routine. But if I hadn't listed my losses, I never would have known that the pain was cutting deep places for joy . . . "

What you've just read is adapted from a chapter of a book I'm working on for widows based on the book of Ruth from the Bible.

I've got to tell you, God's Word feeding my soul was the only thing that pulled me through grief!

I was amazed over and over at how the book of Ruth spoke so pointedly to each of my needs as a widow. It showed me the journey, the choices and the hope ahead of me.

God used the book of Ruth to pull me through, and I rejoice that He offers the same to you, too. Step by step. No need to look ahead to tomorrow or next year. Concentrate on today. Realize your losses, list them, and know that someday the joy will fill them all in.


  1. Powerful message. I have been digesting the book of ruth for the past few months now, and while I have solely identified with Ruth (hence the name of my blog), I have somewhat overlooked Naomi. Thank you for enlightening me! The book of Ruth has been an inspiration, a comfort and a source of hope for me. Who better to identify with than a woman from the Bible who was like me- widowed young. Can't wait to read your book on it! -Jenn,

  2. Jenn, I'm so sorry for your loss, but so glad you've discovered the book of Ruth, too! It's like God wants widows to know He has a special message just for them. Ruth is a great role model for you, and Scripture is what will feed your soul for this rugged journey. hugs to you.


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