Are You a Naomi or Job?

On Sunday nights, our church has been studying the Old Testament book of Ruth. Last night as I was getting ready to leave, a lady in our congregation came up to me and suggested that I compare Ruth 1:21 and Job 1:21. This intrigued me.  After I got home I eagerly looked at both passages.  Wow.

What we see in these two verses are Naomi’s and Job’s response to the events in their lives. In each case, they had experienced great loss, but there is a dramatic difference in how each one perceived those losses.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons, which led to the loss of her living as there was no man to take care of her. She was in a foreign land (Moab) and decided to return to her home of Bethlehem because the famine was now over in Bethlehem.

As she entered her home town, the townsfolk and family happily turned out to meet her. We pick up the narrative in the first chapter.

Ruth 1:20-21 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

As we can see, she is very bitter at her current situation and is convinced that the “Almighty” is against her and brought on all the calamities of life upon her. Naomi is “Naomi centered.” Her view of life is one of hurt, bitterness and depression.

This was fresh on my mind as we just finished the first chapter.  I eagerly turned to the book of Job. In his case we know that God allowed Satan to interfere with Job’s life, up to the point of death. The incidents that took place included 1) his livestock, oxen, sheep, and camels were stolen and those that were watching over them were slain. 2) all of his 10 children died in a horrible accident (Job 1:13-19).

Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job did not blame God. He also was hurt, but his outlook on life was God centered. He was in deep mourning at such a loss, but he fell down and worshipped God. In all this he did not charge “God foolishly.”

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you do not get a “free pass” of bad things happening to you in this life on earth.

In Jesus’ great teaching called the Sermon on the Mount, He gave the listeners this truth:

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Bad situations will happen to us, that is a fact. It is how we respond to them that will show the intent of the heart to those around you. When life crumbles all around you, will you respond like Naomi or Job?

Life Was Simpler Then

As I grew up in the outskirts of Denver Colorado, life was simpler than it is today. Growing up in the 1950’s—60’s the world seemed so far away from Greewood Boulevard.

When I was in grade school (they call it elementary school today) my greatest joy was getting home and riding my bike. My bike could take me places faster than I could ever walk or run. My bike gave me a certain amount of freedom. Of course that freedom came with a cost. I had a whole list of “do’s and don’t’s” pilled on…but it was freedom and I got to make the decisions on which streets I would ride on going to Brancaccio’s lake to fish or the drain ditch to catch crawdad’s. I could ride it all the way to the 7-11 for a soda or to the makeshift diamond to play a game of hard ball.

The neighborhoods were safe. I could go all day away from the house without my mom being worried. We did not have cell phones. If I wanted to tell my mom I was running late, I would simply stop in at a neighbor’s house and ask them to call mom for me.

The evening meal, we called it dinner, was not to be missed. Mom would cook a great meal and the whole family would sit down together and talk. That was the information hub for my brother Jack and me. You see the internet was not created yet. We communicated with each other with our voice. When I wanted to tell Tonda, my girlfriend in the sixth grade because she always won at teatherball, that I liked her, I would walk up to her and talk.

At night, once the dishes were washed by my brother and I, we would lay down in the floor and watch one of three channels on the television. We had a 25” black and white TV and the whole family would watch “What’s My Line”, “Gunsmoke”, “Perry Mason” or “I Love Lucy.”

I don’t miss a lot from those early years, but, yes, I believe life was simpler then.

My mom, Geneva, holding Jackie and me in my shorts.
My mom, Geneva, holding Jackie and me in my shorts.