You won't find his name in the book of Ruth, but there is a root of bitterness in the story before redemption happens. Naomi leaves Bethlehem with her husband and two sons because there is a famine in the land. They travel about 50 miles to Moab - a place where God isn't recognized or respected. While she's there. her husband dies and eventually her two sons die after they were married for 10 childless (barren) years.
Naomi experiences famine, death and barrenness before she hears that God has heard and answered the prayers of the folks back home. Prosperity has returned. Only her Daughter-in-law Ruth returns with her and is famously known for these words: "But Ruth said, “Don’t ask me to leave you! Don’t beg me not to follow you! Every place you go, I will go. Every place you live, I will live. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. And where you die, I will die. And there I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me terribly if I do not keep this promise: Only death will separate us.” Ruth 1:16-17 ICB
After arriving in Bethlehem, everyone is excited to see them, but Naomi has returned as a bitter woman.
"But Naomi told the people, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because God All-Powerful has made my life very sad." Ruth 1:20 ICB The rest of the story is about God's redemption and restoration.
The Christmas Story about Ebenezer Scrooge is similar in that there's a root of bitterness that caused him to be bitter. He's not only bitter, he's also grouchy, miserable, cantankerous, cold, stingy and crabby to name a few more negative attributes. One Christmas Eve, his former business partner who died on a previous Christmas Eve, comes back to visit him as a ghost. He appears straight out of the pits of hell as a warning to Scrooge to change his miserable demeanor or he'll end up in hell too.
Scrooge is then visited by three ghosts from Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. The first ghost takes him to a street corner where he sees boyhood friends and he shares in their joyful reunion. Soon though, they all bid farewell and wish each other a Merry Christmas. Scrooge's dad had put him in a boarding school as a young boy and wasn't allowed home on Christmas. There was no father-son relationship. The bitterness of fatherlessness grew like poison ivy in a young boy's heart.
Like Naomi, Scrooge experienced redemption and with it came a resurrected heart. The world is full of Jesus Moments. Like the popular song "There Was Jesus" sung by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton, we all have moments we can look back on and see there was Jesus in our struggles. Today is a good day to look forward and see Jesus redeeming bitter lives. We can remember them tomorrow as we seek Jesus today.
Thanks for your time. Go do something nice for somebody. Jesus loves you and so do we.
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