“With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah. But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mother’s homes.” (Ruth 1:7-8 NLT)
In Ruth 1:19-20, which we examined in last week’s devotional, Naomi declares herself to be bitter. Naomi’s bitterniess comes from her grief, and this grief is leading to what we call depression in modern times.
In Chapter 1 of Ruth, we learn that Naomi has lost her husband and her sons. Naturally, Naomi is grieving. Then she hears that the famine is over in Canaan. So she decides (vs. 7) to go back home together with her two daughters-in-law. On the way there, she changes her mind.
She changes her mind? Why? I can imagine how disturbing this must have been for Ruth and Orpah. Traveling requires preparation both mental and physical. Both women had come to terms with Naomi’s decision and they were willing to accompany Naomi to Canaan. They had packed their bags, said their goodbyes, and prepared themselves for the unknown. Now in the middle of nowhere, Naomi changes her mind? How odd is that!
Well, maybe it is not as odd as it seems. Depressed people suffer from an inability to make decisions. They are lonely and in need of companionship, but they push people away. Naomi knows she is not herself. She realizes she is poor company for herself and others. She is depressed and bitter. Perhaps, she does not want to subject her daughters-in-law to the bitterness she feels. Instead, she decides to get through it alone.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a friend who suffered from depression? All of us are mildly depressed from time to time, but it passes. One of the indicators of depression in my own life is when I stop calling or writing to my mother. I want to share my successes with her, but not my troubles. However, my mother knows me too well. If I neglect to write or call, her mother’s heart knows her baby is hurting. She will then call me and her first words are: “Is anything wrong? I haven’t heard from you in a while.” This of course opens the floodgates, and once I share my burdens, I feel lighter.
Verse 14 tells us “…Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.” What a blessing for Naomi to have Ruth! When our depressed friends or family members try to push us away we have a choice. We can leave or cling to them, remaining steadfast till they get through their depression. When we are the ones suffering from depression, we may experience contradictory feelings. We may want to be left alone, and at the same time long to be supported. In truth, we are never alone. God is with us. He was with Naomi. She just had not realized it yet.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
Sometimes we do not know whether we are coming or going. You have the power to give us direction. Forgive us for not turning to you for help, and thank you for placing friends and family members in our lives whom we can count on to remain faithful and steadfast through our times of trouble. Thank you for your Son, Jesus, who bore our sins and made our burden easier to carry. We commit to be faithful and steadfast when others in our lives need us to be strong for them, because we know our strength comes from you.
In Jesus’ name,