Am I my sister’s keeper? Part iii
Last time we stopped talking about what keeps us from being our sister’s keeper. We will look at the example of the Book of Ruth to guide our discussion. What hinders us may be a wrong decision, a wrong direction, or a wrong arrangement.
In Ruth 1: 1-5 we find Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons leaving Bethlehem to travel to Moab to escape famine. Elimelech and Naomi leave the comfort of their homeland to go to a nation that practiced polygamy and worshiped idol gods. Naomi partnered with her husband in this wrong decision and finds herself not only as a widow, but as a grieving mother left behind with non-Jewish daughters-in-law. We can also attest to having made wrong decisions that left us with serious consequences. How many times have we sisters fallen in love with Denzel’s face and Schwarzenegger’s body, with the 10 ¢ promise of the sun, the moon and the stars that resulted in unwanted pregnancies, unwanted marriages, abandonment, abuse, divorce and more? ? How many times have we gotten tired of waiting on God and decided that we know what is best for our situation, only to screw things up and pray for deliverance?
Wrong decisions keep us from being our sister’s keeper. When we make wrong decisions, we feel so incompetent to help others that we don’t try to help others through their circumstances. Naomi surely felt that she couldn’t help her daughters-in-law. What could she offer after the wrong decision that left her empty and desolate? However, we must understand that we may in fact continue to make wrong decisions, but that they should never stop us from supporting each other.
Wrong address v. 6-18. After losing everything, Naomi instructs her daughters-in-law to return to their pagan culture. She was so engrossed in self-pity and anguish that she couldn’t orient them. We are prevented from being our sister’s guardian because we have not transferred our own brokenness to God and we have not allowed him to use our trials as an example to someone else. When we take a wrong turn, any turn that leads us to star in our own drama or dance at our own pity party, anything other than trust in the Lord, we cannot give our sisters a word of encouragement because we are too absorbed. in our own situation to realize her and her pain.
Incorrect provision v. 19-22. Naomi was fired and grieved. She believed that the Lord had treated her harshly. She had trusted Him, was submissive in following her husband, and now she had to return home to empty Bethlehem. By concentrating on the negative, she became so bitter that she could not see the devoted daughter-in-law that the Lord had given her in place of her loss. When she got home, people remembered and noticed that she said, “Is this Naomi?” But she replied, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara (bitter) because the Lord has treated me bitterly.”
An incorrect arrangement will not only prevent us from being our sister’s keeper, but it will also alienate us from her. Why would anyone want to capitalize on their life experiences, or be encouraged by their testimony of God’s goodness as demonstrated in their life, if they seem bound, without joy or victory? We must believe through our trials and tribulations that “all things work together for our good.” Through our persecutions and trials, the Lord wants us to trust Him and continue to encourage others of what He can do! Often when we put our problems aside and are obedient to help others, the Lord resolves our situation and even if he does not release us at that time, He definitely gives us peace through them!
After we allow the Lord to pass through what keeps us from being our sisters’ guardians, be it wrong decisions, wrong directions, or wrong provisions, we can rise above them and give each other the supportive ear, the welcoming arms. and attention. Prayerful lips that God has given us to use to restore one another in times of trouble and distress. Let us draw close to each other because we are our sister’s keeper!