“All the struggles that happen in our meanwhiles have the potential to develop us. . . . What we see as trouble, God sees as training. We can’t take an escalator to holiness. We have to ascend the stairway of struggle to strengthen our legs and pace our steps.”- Sharon Jaynes
“Don’t call me Naomi [which means pleasant]. . . . Call me Mara [which means bitter], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”- Ruth 1:20-21 (NIV)
Sharon Jaynes concludes Chapter 3 of When You Don’t Like Your Story as she observes that Naomi left no doubt Who she blamed for her misfortune. Above all, she laced the name she used for God — El Shaddai — with sarcasm. Because El Shaddai means ‘the Almighty’ or ‘All-Sufficient One.’ Certainly, Naomi didn’t believe God was all-sufficient for her.
As a result, Naomi’s grief and bitterness blinded her. Therefore, she failed to recognize God’s gracious provision walking beside her. Ruth, a Moabite girl whose name meant ‘woman friend.’ In his article ‘When It Seems Like God Did You Wrong,’ Jon Bloom comments on Ruth and Naomi’s meanwhile:
“This is what we must remember in our times of desolation, grief, and loss. How things appear to us and how things actually are, are rarely the same. Sometimes it looks and feels like the Almighty is dealing ‘very bitterly’ with us when all the while he is doing us and many others more good that we could have imagined.”
In conclusion, Sharon cautions, we must take care that we don’t end up bitterly stuck. Instead, we want to end up pleasantly surprised. We find ourselves stuck when we look at life through the difficulties of yesterday. Rather, when we pick up the grains of goodness God leaves behind, we focus on the possibilities of today.
Today’s question: What Scriptures sustain you as you avoid the escalator of holiness? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Uncharted territory – living without the past”