And she said to them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?
If you have never read this story, here we have a woman whose life was drastically changed. First, she and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons left Bethlehem because of a severe famine. Looking for a better life, they journeyed to Moab. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, dies, and ten years later, her two sons die, leaving her to care for her two daughters-in-law. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, but upon returning she has no husband or sons, instead a bitter heart.
I can’t recall how many times I have read this passage of scripture and each time God would speak to my heart. I believe all the scriptures are written to teach us valuable lessons that will be taught through life’s experiences. I had no idea the one day I hade to practice applying this principle to my life.
Just as Naomi did not understand why God had chosen to take her through one of the most challenging experiences in life, I pondered this as well. Just like a child growing up in life, you have expectation and plans that usually don’t include bruises and bumps in the road. But I found that even when the unexpected things in life do occur, God has a plan and purpose to make something good out of the worse situations.
At 42 years of age I found hope, encouragement and a renewed spirit while going through a divorce. Although my plight was not one in which I welcomed or embraced, I had to accept that God had already known about this part of my life before the foundation of the world.
He was taking me through one of the most unpleasant times in my life, but I had to trust that the one in which I had given my life to, knew exactly what was best for me. There was something about my life that He was going to reveal and what I had faced and conquered was really going to alter my life forever.
I had one choice to make either I was going to allow myself to be bitter with what He had allowed to happen, or I was going to let the situation develop and make me into a better person. I decided to use the situation to make me better.
God was using my circumstances to bring me to a place of maturity, confidence and total dependency on Him. I learned not to look at my current condition, although quite hard at times. I had to realize that some day God would show me why He had chosen me to carry this particular cross.
The Bigger Picture
There was a bigger picture that God had for my life, a picture that was revealed at the beginning of 2007. God wanted me to begin telling people what He had done for me during my ordeal and how He carried me through the storms of life. My book That Was Then, This Is Now: This Broken Vessel Restored (Tate Publishing & Enterprises, May 2008) was birthed from my pain. No tear was shed in vain. This book is a heart-wrenching account of one woman’s true story of determination, loss and triumph.
So many times I wanted to give up, throw in the towel and quit, but something inside me would not let me. God’s’ spirit was constantly bringing comfort to me, guiding me and assuring me that everything was going to work out for my good. God had a wonderful plan and purpose for my life even when I couldn’t see how things were going to turn out.
I encourage you even if things don’t go according to your plans God has a plan that is so much bigger and better for you. Trust Him; you will not be disappointed.
Paulette Harper Johnson, an award winning author, writing coach, and speaker, seeks to inspire women from all walks of life. Paulette is a wife, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, radio host, and writer. She has been mentoring and teaching women for years though seminars, workshops and conferences. Paulette Harper Johnson serves in ministry as an Elder with her husband Sr. Pastor Tony E. Johnson at Word of Faith Worship Center in Bradenton, FL.
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