So often we focus on what is bad in our lives, but today, I want to encourage you to think on what is good in your life. You may not like your job, but is God using it to provide for you and /or your family while he prepares a different path for you? Your marriage may be strained, but if I asked you to take out a sheet of paper (the professor in me!) and write two columns on what is good about your spouse and what is bad about your spouse, could you find at least one positive quality that you admire about them, or maybe two or three even?
Sometimes our hurts, heartbreaks, fears, and frustrations blind us to the positive aspects of our situations and we cannot get past thinking that God is causing us to suffer without offering us help for the journey ahead. Instead, we should take time to reflect on what is good in our lives and how God’s hands of mercy and grace may be working for our good, to turn the situation around.
In Chapter 1 of the Book of Ruth, we meet two incredible women, Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi had lost her husband and both of her sons. In her grief and distress, she decided to return to Bethlehem of Judah, to her own people. When the two women arrive in Bethlehem, the entire town was excited to see Naomi again. They asked, “Is it really Naomi?”
In verse 20-21, we read, “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?” Mara meant bitter, whereas Naomi meant pleasant, so her pleasant life had ended and been replaced by a bitter reality. Certainly, we can sympathize with her losses.
But, Naomi was so focused on her suffering and grief that she did not see that God had not brought her home empty, for God had softened Ruth’s heart and instilled in her a determination to stay with Naomi, when she had no obligation to do so. Not only that, but God had given the two widowed women safe travels to Bethlehem, and he had orchestrated it where they arrived right at the barley harvest, meaning there would be a means by which Ruth would be able to provide food for them both. Ruth had left her people and her gods to live among the Israelites and serve their God. It was a sacrifice fueled by love, compassion, and respect for Naomi.
Yes, Naomi had suffered a lot, but the God of Israel had not forgotten her or her needs, guiding her to return to a place where she would find peace and renewal with the birth of a son to Ruth and Boaz, her husband’s relative who married Ruth as required by Jewish law. If Naomi would have stopped to reflect on her situation, she would have seen the good that God had placed in her life through the resources she possessed in the person of Ruth, and she would have acknowledged that God was working things out for her.
How many of us can look back now and reflect on what we have endured and see just how God worked out the situations in our lives, bringing just the right people into our lives to help us get through the rough times? I know that there are things that happen in our lives that bring us to our very knees, and I do not mean to discount or belittle your suffering or pain. I just want to inspire and encourage you to stop and reflect on your life, to see if you can find the good that God has placed in your life, such as the people he brings to help you or who provide some resources that help you cope with the situation. It may be a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, or the person serving you coffee.
In one case with me, it was a homeless man whom I was afraid to talk to, but as he passed me on the very day I had prayed for God to show himself to me, he spoke to me of God’s love for me and told me that God was still thinking about me even though it seemed he was silent. I was so amazed that I stopped walking and just stared after him! I was thankful to God for hearing and answering my cry!
So, today, look for the good in your life, not minimizing the hurt, but acknowledging that with God in Heaven orchestrating our lives, you are never alone. Remember that God is always working in our favor, to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Father in Heaven,
Thank you for the good in my life today, especially for my husband, whose tender love reminds me each day of your love for me in bringing him into my life. Help all of us to see the good that You are doing in our lives, just like you did for Naomi and Ruth. When I think that Your love for Naomi would lead to the birth of King David’s grandfather and then to King David, and then to Jesus, our Savior, I am amazed at Your orchestration of the world. To You be glory, honor, dominion, ad majesty. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.