Turn Bitterness into Joy
Yael Eckstein | January 23, 2023
“Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” — Ruth 4:14–15
Today, I continue with a new devotional series on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join me as we explore teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.
Sometimes the events of life can feel nothing short of soul-crushing. We feel devastated by the loss of a loved one or some other life-event, and it seems like life will never be the same. Our hope is gone. All that fills the emptiness of our hearts is despair.
Hopefully, times like that only last for a season, but in the midst of them, it feels as if the despair will last forever. Life seems hopeless. When we’re going through one of those difficult seasons it’s important to remind ourselves that God’s plan is bigger than what we can see in the moment.
We see this in the Bible in the story of Naomi and Ruth. Naomi had been a wealthy woman from a respected family when she and her husband left Israel due to a famine. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem after the loss of her husband and both sons, she told her friends not to call her Naomi, which means “pleasantness,” but to call her Mara, which means “bitterness.”
Turning Bitterness into Joy
Naomi’s misfortune had left her bitter (Ruth 1:20–21). But later in the story, after Ruth’s unlikely marriage to Boaz, and Naomi herself becoming a grandmother, Naomi’s friends in Bethlehem blessed her: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
The birth of this child didn’t just make Naomi a joyous grandmother of a newborn baby. Little did Naomi know that this baby boy would become the grandfather of King David, the beginning of the royal line that would lead to the Messiah. What a blessing!
During all her years of hardship and poverty, did Naomi ever think that God was merely setting her up for an even greater joy?
God is doing a great work in each one of us, and we need only remember the story of Naomi and Ruth to turn any bitterness into joy.
Are you struggling with challenges in life? Remember that God loves you and is setting you up for greater blessings than you can see.