Monday, December 19, 2011

Call Me Mara

Many of my high school friends, even those who grew up in the church, have become so cynical. They've lived through broken families, a dozen fucked up relationships, multiple job losses, etc. In the past they could find humor in life's melodramas but the joke has gone too far. At 19 years old they are sarcastic and hopeless. 

It all seems so pointless, this constant drudging on and on to no end and with no purpose. They used to think things would get better when they were older, but adulthood has brought them more sorrows and disappointments. Life is no longer a melodrama because melodramas allow for hope. Life is a tragedy because there is no hope. What is the point?

The only difference between me and my high school friends is that I have a hope that transcends my circumstances. I have faith in a God who promised that if he is for me, no one can be against me. I have faith in a God who is always good and works things out for good, despite the seeming tragedies of life. 

Because of this, I know that life cannot be a tragedy because with God there is always hope. I will use the book of Ruth in the Old Testament as an example of God’s sovereign goodness.

Naomi lost her husband and her sons to death and she was left with only her two daughter-in-laws. Three women in ancient Mesopotamian society could not own land, and therefore they were damned to lives of poverty. Naomi calls herself "Mara" because she says that the Lord has dealt bitterly with her. She sees this situation as a tragedy and she forgets the goodness of God. 

Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, travel to Naomi's hometown of Bethlehem. Naomi has land there, but she needs a male kinsman redeemer to get the land back for her. The only way to do this is if Naomi or Ruth marry one of their male kinsman. Naomi is old and Ruth is a Gentile (non-Jew) in the land, so it is unlikely that they will get married. 

The story continues and God works through providential happenings. By the end of the story, Ruth gets married to Boaz, a relative of Naomi's husband, who redeems their land. Ruth gives birth to a child who will inherit the land. Ruth and Boaz’s son, Obed, is the grandfather of King David who becomes the greatest king Israel ever had, and through his line of descendants comes the Messiah, Jesus. 

God is sovereign over seeming tragedies to bring about good. Naomi's tragedy brought the line of David, the line of the Messiah who redeemed the world of its sins, and gave God's people a heavenly inheritance. Naomi knew that God was sovereign over the death of her sons and husband, but she forgot that God is not only sovereign but he is good. 

In the book of Genesis, Joseph also explains this concept to his brothers when they apologize to Joseph for selling him into slavery in Egypt.  "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20). 

Paul reiterates this in Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

So to my high school friends, and any others who have lost hope in life, remember that there is no hope in life apart from God. This fallen world is cruel and hopeless.

However, with God on your side there is always hope no matter what the circumstances are because God is good to those who love him. How do you love him? By obeying him. How do you obey him? By having faith in him. How do you have faith? By asking for it! Remember that God is good even when you don’t see the goodness right now. 

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