Message of Hope: God is still God during the good times and the bad times.
Take the time to read and answer the following questions. If you’d like, you can share them in the comments section of this blog entry. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. There is no answer key to go to 😉 This is just a way of digging deeper into the Word and encouraging each other in our walk.
Listening and Learning:
1. Why do you think Naomi would attribute both good and bad crops to God.
2. Why does Naomi assume her daughter-in-laws would go with her?
3. Read verse 8 again. Why would Naomi wait until they are on their trip to encourage her daughter-in-laws to go back to their mother’s home?
4. What cultural practices might there be that would make verse 12 and 13 make sense?
5. There seems to be plenty of evidence in this story to suggest that God has raised his fist against Naomi, but is there any evidence that might suggest that God has not raised his fist against her?
6. It seems that Naomi believes that all things, both good and bad come from God. How is this possible?
7. Most of the time people don’t have a problem with the “good” coming from God, so what is the difference between all “bad” coming from God, and God allowing “bad” to happen even though it comes from another source like Satan?
1. Why do you think Naomi would attribute both good and bad crops to God.Perhaps this had to do with the history of the Israelites disobedience of God. With her husband and two sons, Naomi left her home in Judah and went to live in Moab. The family went there to find a better life because there was a famine in Bethlehem where they lived (Ruth 1:1-2). When the people of Israel obeyed the One True God they were blessed. But when they worshipped other (false) gods they were punished. Sometimes God let invading armies conquer them and steal their crops. Sometimes they did not receive rain to make their crops grow (Lev. 25). So this story was during a time when the people were not right with God and so she is attributing the good and the bad to God, although the bad is a result of disobedience.2. Why does Naomi assume her daughter-in-laws would go with her?In those times family was expected to support each other.3. Read verse 8 again. Why would Naomi wait until they are on their trip to encourage her daughter-in-laws to go back to their mother's home? The trip was most likely a difficult one and maybe she hoped that this would help them long to be with their mothers where they felt safe and comfortable?4. What cultural practices might there be that would make verse 12 and 13 make sense?In reading a bit more about the customs of the time, men and women lived in separate apartments. Daughters lived in the apartment with their mothers, so it would only make sense that they would go to live with their mothers.5. There seems to be plenty of evidence in this story to suggest that God has raised his fist against Naomi, but is there any evidence that might suggest that God has not raised his fist against her?Naomi was left in very difficult circumstances, but we are not our circumstances. They do not ‘make us’. What we do with them and through them is what truly matters and it is clear that Naomi, although sad and mourning, makes the best and wisest decisions for her life and that of her daughters-in-law. Through it all God is with her and provides for her. His fist is not raised against her.6. It seems that Naomi believes that all things, both good and bad come from God. How is this possible?This is a difficult question to answer and there have been many theological arguments about this. My thoughts on this are probably too simplistic, but I know that God gives us free choice and from our choices (good or bad) are consequences (good or bad). I believe that good comes from God and perhaps God allows the bad to happen as consequences for our choices that may not have been good as lessons or encouragement to make better choices the next time. I don’t think God is ‘out to get us’ with bad, but he allows us to choose in life and with choice comes consequence (good or bad).7. Most of the time people don't have a problem with the “good” coming from God, so what is the difference between all “bad” coming from God, and God allowing “bad” to happen even though it comes from another source like Satan?I think this goes back to the whole concept of God giving us free choice. I don’t believe that ‘bad’ comes from God, but God allows ‘bad’ to happen as a result of our choices that may not have been good.Wow!! Deep questions today and we may have differing opinions on the answers and that’s okay. I am always wanting to learn more and hear other’s opinions. Please share them.
Cathy – General CommentsFor myself, I’ve never been able to picture God as one who “raises his fist” at me. I view him as a loving Father who guides me through the good and bad choices that I make and the “good and bad happenings” in my life. Looking back at my life, perhaps that’s been easy for me to do. I do spend some time wondering why do more “good” things or more “bad” things happen to some people than others?As I sit on my third floor balcony on a gorgeous August morning I wonder, why do I get to have – a lovely condo to live in, a good job, all of my needs and more provided for, loving family and friends, a caring spiritual community? As I read The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, I wonder why Palestinian and Israeli women my age have to live in fear and pain as they try to find a safe place to live, clean water to drink and scraps of food for their family. While I am relaxing over a cup of tea and contemplating the book of Ruth, they are trying to figure out how to save their family members from death.I know God loves and cares for me. He also loves and cares for women in Palestine and Israel. In my humanness, I don’t understand why “good and bad” things happen to certain people. I don’t spend too much time trying to come up with an answer. I think it’s beyond my understanding. I also agree with Iris: \”I think this goes back to the whole concept of God giving us free choice. I don’t believe that ‘bad’ comes from God, but God allows ‘bad’ to happen as a result of our choices that may not have been good.\”I think the challenge for me … is God watching how we love and support each other through our good and bad times in life. It’s a bit easier to be there for our families, church family and communities. What about beyond? What am I, an in comparison well-to-do Canadian woman, doing to support the women across the world where unimaginable “bad” things are happening to them?Naomi was a woman of action. Even though she may have felt God was shaking his fist at her, I applaud her for leaving the familiar and moving her family to a place where food was available. I commend her for allowing her daughter-in-laws to move back to their own families when she may have loved to have had their support for herself. Naomi did not allow her own grief to swallow her up so that she was unable to move forward through the bad times in her life.WOW! All these thoughts and we’re only half way through the first chapter. Today I am praying for each person in this bible study. I hope your day is full of “good” things. I pray that there are people to love and support you as you go through the “bad” things in your life. I pray that we will remember to praise God for our good times and seek His guidance and wisdom during our bad times. Thank you Iris for your efforts in facilitating this bible study.
Thanks again, for your thoughts, Cathy. So many great things to be reminded of, people to pray for, and growth to see in our own lives–in each situation we are in. ~ Iris