“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?””
(Ruth 1:19–21 ESV)
In the wild and wooly early days of the Phoenix Preacher whenever we wrote extensively about a church scandal, proponents of those being scandalized would have a knee jerk reaction to call all of us “bitter”.
It was a “godly” rebuke intended to shut us up.
It became a running joke for years (we would award them the “bitter dove”)…but the reality of bitterness in the heart is anything but funny.
I’m past fifty now and things in life haven’t played out anything like the grand visions of my twenties and thirties and forties…even recent hopes prayed for seem to be dashed daily.
Like Naomi, I believe that God’s providential hand is and has been at work…but I’m not ready to change my name to “Mara’.
While life in general is hard, God has redeemed my place in the church and my heart towards it.
Not so for all of us…today many of us say with Job ; “he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness” … even in regard to the company of God’s people.
I know the feeling…but I also know it will defile and ruin everything else I want to cherish. (Heb 12:15)
I write not as a critic, but as a fellow pilgrim and pastor…is bitterness now staining your heart and all that you carry in it?
Are you frustrated and angry with the providence of God in your life?
Tell Him how you feel..He knows already.
Is. 38:17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness;but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction,for you have cast all my sins behind your back.