Aug. 13, 2009
“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 I
Invalid: “Not strong. Chronically ill or a disabled person. Poor health.”
“I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
Do I ever label people because of the physical challenges they have?
How can I assist someone who needs my help today?
“Ours is a culture that emphasizes cure, or, short of that, immediate relief from symptoms, so that we can carry on with our busy lives. Unfortunately, in our cultural denial of the reality of chronic illness and disability, we frequently silence the voices of those who cannot deny it.”
Marsha Saxton and Florence Howe
“There are times when God asks nothing of His children except silence, patience, and tears.”
Charles Seymour Robinson
Before we begin our journey with Naomi and Ruth back to Bethlehem, I want to spend two days reflecting on information that is contained in our text for today, Ruth 1: 2.
In this verse, we are told that Elimelech and Naomi’s sons had two names which had very painful and even tragic meanings associated with them.
As we have looked at some of the names in the Old Testament, we’ve found that often, the child’s mother had a great deal of influence over the naming of her children. Furthermore, a child’s name was quite often a reflection of the child themselves or the mother’s state of mind at the time the child was born.
Today, we will look at the name Mahlon, which means invalid or sickly one. In Ruth 4: 10, we are told that Mahlon was Ruth’s husband, which tells us something about Ruth. If at the time she met Mahlon, he wasn’t in good health, this fact did not deter her from accepting him as he was. And in Ruth 1: 8, Naomi even alludes to the fact that both of her daughters-in-law dealt “kindly” with the dead.
I think it is important not to bypass this reference in Scripture to the compassionate care and patient acceptance of those who face the challenges that disease, injury and age bring upon every one of us.
Having gone from having a totally active life with a very healthy, athletic husband and being very energetic myself, to now living in a world of challenges brought on by unexpected disability, I find that our current situation is not something I could ever have imagined a few short years ago.
On one of the first trips I was allowed to take outside the Rehab Hospital, my mother came and picked me up. She pushed me in my special wheelchair out to her car and with my handy wooden slide board I slid into the front seat of her car and off we went to the bookstore that was a block away from the hospital.
I’ll never forget, as we pulled into the parking lot, we looked for a place on the sidewalk where there was a leveled spot that would make it easier for my mom to push my wheelchair up to the door of the store. A few days before our accident, I wouldn’t have given a moment’s thought to “dips” in sidewalks or handicap bathrooms or handicap parking spots – but in one split second, all that changed.
Whether Mahlon was sick all his life, we do not know. However, we do know that no illness kept Ruth from loving him and caring for him until he died.
In a world where we rush about with so little thought being given to those around us, times of illness or injury in our own lives can be the teachers that help open our eyes to the way we can aid those who find themselves facing lives filled with unexpected trials.
Recently, a precious daughter of God who is taking care of a totally disabled husband at home, came to Transformation Garden. Unable to get out to socialize with others at church or in any other setting and being dependent on those who will assist her with necessary activities such as grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments, I was reminded of the amazing kindness extended to Jim and me for over a year when we were both confined at home to wheelchairs and needed help. You might be surprised at the seemingly small acts of compassion and love which lifted our spirits (and still do) on the days when the pain is too great or the tasks too heavy.
As we are reminded that Ruth dealt kindly with the “sickly” one in her life, let’s each of us purpose today to lift the burden of someone whose load is heavy and whose burden will be lightened, knowing someone cares.
“I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness.”
“Beatitudes for Disabled People”
“Blessed are you who take time
to listen to defective speech,
for you help us to know that
if we persevere, we can be
Blessed are you who walk with
us in public places and ignore
the stares of strangers, for in
your companionship we find
havens of relaxations.
Blessed are you that never bids
us ‘hurry up’ and more blessed
are you that do not snatch our tasks
from our hands to do them for us,
for often we need time rather than help.
Blessed are you who stand beside
us as we enter new ventures, for
our failures will be outweighed
by times we surprise
ourselves and you.
Blessed are you who ask for
our help, for our greatest need
is to be needed.
Blessed are you when by all these
things you assure us that the
thing that makes us individuals
is not our peculiar muscles,
nor our wounded nervous system,
but is the God-given self
that no infirmity can
Blessed are those who realize
I am human
and don’t expect me to be saintly
just because I am disabled.
Blessed are those who pick things up
without being asked.
Blessed are those who understand
that sometimes I am weak and
not just lazy.
Blessed are those who forget
my disability of the body
and see the shape of
Blessed are those who see me
as a whole person, unique
and complete, and not as a
‘half’ and one of God’s mistakes.
Blessed are those who love me
just as I am without wondering
what I might have been like.
Blessed are my friends
on whom I depend,
for they are the substance and joy
of my life.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.