Do You Ever Feel Sorry For Yourself?

Most folks have had weeks when things seem to be particularly challenging. Last week, it wasn’t the eye-stinging and chest-coughing smoke from nearby forest fires that made my week less than ideal. Instead, each day seemed full of various-sized potholes jolting me.

Yes, I have lots to be thankful for every week, but life has its mean and bitter side, and some people experience more than their share of afflictions and sorrows. Widowers and widows know the anguish of losing a spouse to death. Perhaps they can best understand the grief of Naomi in the Bible. She felt a three-fold dagger of pain pierce her heart.

Naomi lived in Bethlehem with her husband and two sons, but because of a famine in the land, they went to live in the neighboring country of Moab. There they lived for ten years. Sadly, her husband and her two sons died during those ten years. She was a widow without any family in Moab except for her two daughters-in-law. She could not provide for herself or her daughters-in-law, so she decided that she would return to Bethlehem.

Her one daughter-in-law, Ruth, insisted on staying with her and going with her to Bethlehem. There, Naomi said in her grief and destitution, “Call me, Mara, because the Almighty, has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

It was natural for Naomi to feel bitter and afflicted and that God had let misfortune trip her and knock her down three times. Inescapable changes in our lives can leave us feeling numb in denial, angry, and blaming God, others, and ourselves with frustration. Naomi faced a depressing future, and even going back to Bethlehem did not mean someone in her relatives would step up to help her and her daughter-in-law.

Jesus speaks of the need to care for widows and orphans because it often meant that widows in his day were left unseen, unsupported, and regarded as valueless in society. But unfortunately, the news from the United Nations is that widowhood in our present world for its 258 million widows worldwide still reflects Naomi’s bleak future.

In many countries, widows do not have equal inheritance rights, and they may be stripped of their land, evicted from their homes, or even separated from their children. They may be denied access to inheritance, bank accounts, and credit. The United Nations estimates that nearly one in ten widows worldwide lives in extreme poverty. In the world, women are less likely to have access to pensions than men, so the spouse’s death can lead to deprivation. (UN Women June 21/21)

Like widows, we can be slapped with misfortune, shattered health, the death of a close loved one, and the loss of our income. When we face affliction, we can blame God, others, and ourselves or trust God to care for us. As Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, would not leave her, God will not leave us but goes with us as our God. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isa. 40 29

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