Go Away Mara!
Founder, Refined Family
Kerry Tittle is a mother of 10 children and an 20+-year homeschool veteran. She is the founder of Refined Family. Her desire is to honor Christ while comforting others with the comfort she has received from the Lord.
This week will close on the fourth anniversary of the day that shattered my life. There is always a dread that escorts me to this day. Obviously, the disturbing memories are difficult, but I deal with those daily. There is another dread: the dawning of a “New Year” that puts yet another dark year behind me without a clue of what lies ahead.
But I believe the hardest part of this journey is the fight for Truth. It has to be intentional. Many times I have to look past my feelings and focus on Truth. To be a warrior in this sort of battle is wearisome and full of temptation to despair. To be honest, too often I have laid down my shield of faith, struggling to keep my hope alive. But He knows. He knows what I am made of… I mean after all He created me. He knew my heart and flesh would fail often in the fight to set my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. And He clings to me.
So often, my story seems impossible. Maybe that’s because I am the one who has to live in the middle of it, but I know my story isn’t unique to humanity. Really. It isn’t.
When we go back in the days of the Judges we find a man called Elimelech from the tribe of Judah. We find utter chaos too. There was no king to rule so the people did right in their own eyes and fell into idolatry. To make matters worse, there was a famine in land. Elimelech, decided to move his wife Naomi and his two sons to Moab until the famine passed. This, in and of itself, should tell you the gravity of the situation because Moabites were very ungodly people who were under a curse. Yet living with them seemed to be a better choice for Elimelech and his family.
As usual, things don’t go as planned.
Elimelech died. Then the two sons died, but not before marrying two Moabite women.
So as we walk through the story, we find a suffering widow, grieving the loss of two children with two daughter-in-laws from a wicked nation. Keep in mind she is a suffering mother/widow living in a foreign land. In those days she would be considered an unprotected woman. Could you come up with a more hopeless situation?
No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.
Of course, we know the end of the story.
(Fast foward in chipmunk dialect) In a nutshell she pleads for her daughter-in-laws to leave her and remarry. Her daughter-in-law Ruth is committed to staying with her and says “your God is my God.” They go back to Bethlehem. Elimelech’s distant relative Boaz comes on the scene, the kinsman redeemer. Marries Ruth. Naomi is taken care of…….. GOD PROVIDED!
Before this could all play out. Naomi is bitter towards the life that the Lord chose for her.
Ruth 1:19 -20
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
Basically Naomi, which means ‘pleasant’, says no longer call me pleasant but call me Mara, which means ‘bitter’.
Any person who has read the Bible knows that name changing occurs often in the Bible. But in this instance, Naomi CHOSE to change her name. She CHOSE to be called bitter rather than pleasant. God didn’t choose this.
It seems that Naomi fully understood and embraced the sovereignty of God but she gave in to hopelessness.
I too have lost a spouse and two children. The battle for hope is real and ongoing even completely embracing the sovereignty of God. When I grow weary I am led to believe that God is working on my timetable. When things aren’t moving in the way I want, I am tempted to give in despair and want to give up the fight.
God gives us choices. CHOOSE to tell Mara to go away. CHOOSE to believe that God will restore us in His timing. CHOOSE to believe He has purpose in the battlefield.
Friend, joy is coming just like it did for Naomi. Hold your ground and cling to the Blessed Hope with anticipation that our needs will be met. But more importantly cling to the hope of the eternal joy that is set before us.
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
Oh, and tell Mara to go away.