“And Elimelech, Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.”
Ruth 1: 3, King James Version
“Disappointment With Moab”
“How Disappointment tracks the steps of hope.”
L. E. Landon
Has there been a decision I made in my life which from all outward appearances looked as though it would improve my situation and yet, I was greatly disappointed by the end result?
“What we never have had, remains; It is the things we have that go.”
“He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.”
Isaiah 5: 2, King James Version
On October 6, 1727, a letter was sent to John Gay written by Alexander Pope, considered by many to be the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century. In his correspondence, Mr. Pope penned these words: “Blessed is he (she) who expects nothing, for he (she) shall never be disappointed.”
While it might be easy to write off these words as the outcry of someone who was extremely pessimistic, I have found in my own life, that very often, our expectations, color our view of the results we encounter from the decisions we make in our lives. Famed author, George Eliot, in Silas Marner observed the point I’m making. “Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
A perfect example of this statement is what happened in the life of Elimelech. Because of the famine in “The House of Bread,” Bethlehem, he decided that the grass appeared to apparently be greener in Moab. So he uprooted his family and headed to a better place, or so he expected. And according to some Biblical scholars, the family may have lived in Moab for nearly 10 years. That’s quite a while. In fact, it’s enough time for a family to become very comfortable in a place. The fact is that initially, things may have gone so well in Moab that life in this foreign land exceeded Elimelech’s expectations.
But then one day, a tragedy befell the family. Ruth 1: 3 says that, “Naomi’s husband died.” I appreciate the way this particular sentence is written in the Bible, because the men in society, at that time, usually owned all the property. Wives had little to say. Their opinion was minimized. And it is very likely Elimelech was the sole “decision-maker” when it came to moving from Bethlehem to Moab. It may have been Elimelech was the only one in the family who expected life to be better in Moab. We don’t know. But one thing is certain, the expectation of a better life didn’t work out as intended for Naomi. Her husband died, leaving this Israelite woman with two sons to raise in the land of Moab. The way the King James Version of Scripture describes the situation is, “She was left, and her two sons.” I went to the Hebrew to check on the word, “left,” and what I found was that the word “left” isn’t about direction, it’s about the “remnant” – that torn piece of cloth that’s left over after all the other fabric has been sold or used. Naomi was left behind – a single strip of fabric. A remainder. A residue. A scrap! She was what we call the odds and ends of the Elimelech family, left with two children. I’m certain this wasn’t the expectation Elimelech had when he decided to move his family to Moab. But life is full of unintended consequences. In this case it was Naomi becoming a single mom in a foreign land.
Unfortunately, when expectations aren’t met, disappointment and disillusionment soon follow. For these two emotions are like partners walking beside us and following us whenever life doesn’t work out the way we want or expect.
The author, Margaret Mitchell, who penned the great American novel, Gone With The Wind, observed that “Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” How true this statement is, except for one thing!
You and I have a heavenly Father who left us with the greatest promise, that He will do for His children, “Exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3: 20, K.J.V.). God’s ability to take our crushed dreams and unmet expectations and turn them into something we are incapable of imagining is what the entire book of Ruth is about.
Little could Naomi have conceived of a plan so phenomenal as the one God was working on the very day she laid her husband in a grave on foreign soil. Behind the curtain of her disappointment, God was at work! Naomi’s most lonely moment, when disappointment surrounded her like dense fog, turned out to be God’s appointment with her destiny and a future that not only seemed unlikely but impossible.
If today you are living a life of unmet expectations, if life in Moab hasn’t lived up to all you thought it would be, remember Naomi. For during her time of despair, God was getting ready to take her back to the “House of Bread” where He would see she would be fed to overflowing.
“There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God”
Frederick W. Faber
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff comfort me.”
“Lord, life is empty, miserable and dreary;
free me from this disappointment that imprisons me.
I feel alone, yet I do matter to You.
You love me.
Help me to find comfort in that.
I am heavy and lifeless, in the darkness with You—
yet You are more than darkness.
This disillusionment is like a huge wave:
Help me to ride on it
rather than being engulfed by it.
No matter how awful I feel,
remind me that You are always loving me.
This is hard work, God.
It would be much easier to slump
back into a cushion of misery.
Give me strength for the effort
of each moment as it comes –
for this moment.”
The Book of a Thousand Prayers
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