“The man’s name was Elimelech and his wife’s name was Naomi and his two sons were named Mahlon (invalid) and Chilion (pining).”
Ruth 1: 2
“Invalid and Pining” Part II
Pining: “To wither or waste away from longing or grief. Intense sorrow.”
“All things are dark in sorrow.”
Augusta J. Evans
Is there an event in my life that has left me in a state of “pining” or longing and sorrow?
How has this situation affected me each day?
“To speak of sorrow works upon it, moves it from its crouched place, barring the way to and from the soul’s hall.”
“It is better to learn early of the inevitable depths, for then sorrow and death take their proper place in life, and one is not afraid.”
Pearl S. Buck
I can’t help but wonder why a child would be named, “Pining.” When a baby is born, certainly a parent wouldn’t know that the child would live a mournful and sorrowful life. Yet, indeed, this is exactly what happened in the Elimelech family. Dad died and then both boys died, too.
Chilion’s name, in light of all that happened to Naomi, seems almost prophetic, for sorrow, like gusts of wind, blew over this family time and again.
One crisis after another makes it hard for you to get back up on your feet. Survival doesn’t seem possible when you’re knocked down and flattened. And so, poor Naomi, alone with two widows as daughters, turned herself homeward and began to take one step at a time toward the House of Bread – Bethlehem.
As we have studied about life in Moab, it’s easy for me to believe there was a lot of pining, sorrow, and mourning in the Elimelech family. And it wasn’t just because of the loss sustained by the death of father and sons, for loss is much more than just the absence of a person. Loss can be the destruction of dreams. The unraveling of hope. Loss takes “what could have been” and dilutes it into the diminished reality of what is. The final result can leave us hopeless and disappointed as we yearn and pine for what we can’t retrieve.
However, I have found that it is during times of sorrow and pining when our eyes begin to distinguish more clearly the road ahead. As Gamaliel Bailey so beautifully penned, “Night brings out stars as sorrow shows us truths.” This is what happened in the life of Naomi and those she loved. During those times of deepest yearning, when darkness hid the beauty of day, God was still at work. He had followed Naomi to Moab and He would take her home to Bethlehem.
Of all the times in my life when the chains of sorrow restrained every step I took, none have been greater for me than the sudden death of my father nearly 25-years-ago. I couldn’t have conceived of a worse event happening, and for months afterward, I did not feel I could ever overcome the “pining” that lingered in my heart.
However, I used the words of Pearl S. Buck to begin this section of the devotional today because her written thoughts are not just some sentimental jibberish. Once we are taken in our lives to that spot of “inevitable depth,” if we will hang on to the heavenly Hand of ultimate height, we will begin to comprehend the truth that the One who walks with us is greater than anything that tries to destroy us.
If like Naomi and Ruth and Orpah and Mahlon and Chilion and Elimelech, you are enduring a time of yearning, a time of sorrow when you are longing for something better, I want to encourage you with this beautiful prayer, written by one of my heroines, the Godly mother of John and Charles Wesley – Susanna Wesley:
“Be With Me, O God”
“Be with me, O God, in time of deep adversity, which is apt to affect my mind too much and to dispose to anxious, doubtful and unbelieving thoughts. May I give way to no direct murmurings, no repining at the prosperity of others, no harsh reflections on Providence, but may I maintain a constant acknowledgement of Thy justice and goodness. Save me from thinking severely or unjustly of others: from being too much dejected or disposed to peevishness, covertousness, or negligence in affairs: from working too much or too little. Forbid that I should ever wholly omit to implore Thy divine blessing and assistance in honest prospects and endeavours, or be too solicitous and earnest in prayer for external blessings. May no slight access of trouble have power to ruffle my temper, and to indispose or distract my mind in my addresses to Heaven, in reading, mediation or any other spiritual exercise. I would ever lay to heart the words of our Lord: ‘Be careful (anxious) for nothing. Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for the morrow.’ Amen.”
May your time of pining soon be past for a day of glory is just around the corner. A feast awaits you in Bethlehem – your House of Bread.
“I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky…
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.”
In Heavenly Love Abiding
“In heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here:
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack:
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where the dark clouds have been:
My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free;
My Saviour has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.”
Anna Laetitia Waring
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