Walking Toward Hope When You Are Embittered by Grief
April 5, 2021
I sat in disbelief as the movie credits rolled and fresh tears dripped off my nose. I slowly wiped them away as my mind wrestled to make sense of the injustice played out on the big screen. These were real events. Real people’s stories. And I desired to rescue them from their hopelessness.
Watching people endure inhumane treatment haunts me. Witnessing individuals in situations they are powerless to fix, held down by some power or system, with no one willing to step in to save them, grieves my spirit.
And yet, when the victim overcomes despite all these tragedies, my heart swells with renewed hope.
Where hope exists, victory is possible. It is realized through holding tight to truth. The truth of who we are. The truth of who God is. And the truth that God promises a future hope. According to the Bible, without a vision, the people perish. Hopelessness destroys lives. Satan knows that our humanity weakens under the weight of powerlessness and seeks to blind us from the hope of Christ.
Naomi, an Israelite woman displaced during a famine, lived in the tension between believing God and trusting His plans were good. For over a decade she sought survival in a strange land with her husband and two sons, who eventually all died in this foreign place, leaving her a widow.
She lived in a historical time where women were devalued, had few, if any rights, and everyone did right in their own eyes. Despite all this, Naomi remained faithful to God even while struggling with bitter hopelessness and doubting God’s goodness.
Upon hearing news that God had ended the famine in Judah, she decided to return home. Though Naomi discouraged her daughter-in-law, Ruth, from following her, Ruth insisted and proclaimed that Naomi’s God would be hers too. She rejected the Moabite ways for the true God because of Naomi’s faith.
Still, Naomi was embittered at God for the circumstances of her life. “Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me” (Ruth 1:13b).
Once home, she informed her friends to call her Mara, bemoaning in Ruth 1:20-21, “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?” (ESV)
I can relate to Naomi. She suffered greatly even though she loved the Lord. Having little hope that her life would see better days and not knowing God’s plan to redeem her through Ruth, Naomi did the only thing she could. She walked home. She kept living. And she soon witnessed a glimmer of hope for her future.
In her emptiness, God brought her home. On her journey, joy was restored.
Even when life leaves us broken, bitter and visionless, God is working on our behalf, paving a way. He calls us to faithfully keep walking home until all our hopes are fulfilled.
Have you experienced something that has left you bitter towards God? Have you allowed it to hinder your forward motion? God is for you and will never leave you. While life here is hard, even with Christ’s presence in our lives, it is never without hope. Keep believing and choosing to trust. Redemption is coming! If you are struggling and need prayer, I would love to add you to my prayer list. It would be my honor.