So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabites, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
When Naomi returned to her homeland, in her mind, life was over. She’d lost all her sons and husband to death, and she had no visible options or hope that her future would be anything other than sad and disappointing. For years, she had enjoyed a full life of prosperity and promise, only to see it taken away. Not only that, she had a daughter-in-law who refused to leave her, which only strengthened her fear and feelings of inadequacy. Had Naomi returned home alone, it would have been easy to give up and die, but Ruth’s presence demanded that she reach into her resolve.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, the barley harvest was beginning, giving the women a chance to make a living. Because barley was considered a poor grain, the harvest did not hold the same kind of opportunity a wheat harvest would have. However, this poor man’s crop ended up affording Ruth and Naomi some amazing opportunities in the end. Isn’t that always the way? Sometimes the things we value the least bring us our greatest blessings.
Naomi returned to a place she never wanted to be, bringing with her someone she felt would be a burden, to accept a way of life she did not want to live. Little did she know, all these offenses, disappointments, and humiliations were lining up to create a wonderful new life she never could have imagined.
This life will involve death, disappointment, and pain. During the moments we experience great suffering, our human nature wants to turn inward. However, if, after an acceptable time spent mourning, we are willing to turn our hurt toward healing for someone else’s sake, we will find a new beginning. Sometimes traveling to a place you don’t want to go, with people you don’t want to go with, to settle into something you don’t want to do, brings forth a new life filled with purpose, possibilities, and joy.