Any of us are just one event away from being challenged with depression. During these days of war, terrorist activity, and growing violence, there is a lot of anxiety and fear that can lead to depression and hopelessness. Besides that, we are constantly threatened with all sorts of life events and disappointments that can shake our very being…even in the believer. We all know of someone who suffers from some degree of depression. It is a fast and growing state of being in our stress filled society today. Is there any hope?
I think we can learn some lessons from Naomi in the book of Ruth. By the grace of God, Naomi survived profound disaster and lost. God worked through people and events to deliver Naomi from deep depression.
The theme of the Book of Ruth centers around the Kinsman-Redeemer and the portrayal of the work of Christ. While Ruth and Boaz are the focal characters in this portrayal of the redeeming work of Christ, Naomi is the center of our attention today.
Let’s follow Naomi through Disaster, Depression, and Deliverance.
Disaster in Naomi’s Family
- We see the account of an Israelite family (Elimelech and his wife Naomi; Mahlon and Chilion, their sons) who move from Bethlehem to Moab during a time of famine (Ruth 1:1-5).
- They arrive in Moab, which is about 50 miles east of Bethlehem. Moabites were descendents of Lot via incest.
- Elimelech dies. Naomi and sons stay in Moab.
- Mahlon marries Ruth and Chilion marries Orpah, Moabite women.
- Mahlon and Chilion die after about 10 years, childless.
- Naomi is left with her two Moabite daughter-in-laws in a foreign land.
Depression After Loss
Naomi lost it all, and she became depressed.
The Source of Her Depression
- Likely a bad move by Elimelech to move away. Some think that the famine could have been a judgment for unfaithful Israel, but the text doesn’t indicate it one way or the other. If it was God’s judgment, no one can run from it.
- Dwindled faith. Separated at least 10 years from other Jews. No spiritual support group.
- Death of her husband. Her soul mate. Her protector and provider.
- Death of sons. Her beloved children. Loss of providers and of future generations.
- Desolation state! Grief stricken in a foreign land of idol worshippers.
- We see the 4th stage of what many regard as the grief process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
The Symptoms of Her Depression
- Very self-indulged…only saw her hurt. What about Ruth and Orpah’s grief?
- Low self-worth…hard to accept love from Ruth. Ruth had to insist to stay with her.
- Refusing to be called Naomi (pleasant). Preferring to be called Mara (bitterness). (Ruth1:20-21).
- Blamed God. “The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).
- Expressions of hopelessness.
- Faith at an all time low. Living by sight (Hebrews 11:1).
Deliverance by God
The Supervening of God to Treat Naomi’s Depression
- God, in His mercy, providentially preserved Naomi.
- God providentially guided Naomi back to her homeland and people.
- Converted a heathen (Ruth) and used her to save Naomi physically and spiritually. (Ruth 1:16-17)
- Provisions and hope for both women from God as He guided Ruth to Boaz’s field.
- Naomi stepped outside of self-pity and sought to secure Ruth’s future. Gave Ruth specific instructions how to act with Boaz. (Ruth 3:1-5, 18)
- Step of giving was therapeutic for her…and it is for us. As we pour out ourselves to others, God fills us up abundantly. “Give and it shall be given to you…” Luke 6:38
Showers of Blessings After Her Depression Lifted
- The women of Bethlehem blessed the Lord for His goodness to Naomi (Ruth 4:14-17).
- Naomi now had a grandson. Obed was Mahlon’s son via the kinsman redeemer, Boaz! Royal lineage. Obed-Jesse-David…Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16).
- Naomi is a name well-known and continues even as we study about her in this lesson.
Three Lessons to Learn from Naomi
1. Don’t isolate yourself from the people of God during the good or bad times of life.
Maybe Naomi should have returned home earlier to the family of God after her husband died. “For let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:24- 25).
2. Keep the faith in God’s promises.
Rehearse and remember that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
3. Walk close beside hurting people and stand with them until they win.
“…comfort the faint hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (I Thessalonians 5: 14).
Will you be a Ruth to a Naomi in your life?
Will you let others be a Ruth when you are hurting?