Ruth Chapter 1
Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons
1 In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
What grief to lose your husband and both your sons very close together! How did it affect Naomi? She wanted to return to a place of safety, and so she prepared to return to her own country and people. (v6). She kissed her daughters-in-laws and embraced them, weeping. (V 9, v14.)
In grief there is weeping and how we need the embrace of friends and family in grief. She felt God had dealt bitterly with her (1: v 20) and that she had nothing – she blamed God. Anger and bitterness are very common in grief.
I chose this topic as I have recently lost a very dear friend who was like a second mum to me and in January my brother died from Parkinson’s and dementia. Grief does take its toll on us; I have been unduly tired for the last few months – in grief we need to be kind to ourselves. Someone gave me this poem:
Walking with Grief -- A Celtic Prayer
Do not hurry as you walk with grief
It does not help the journey.
Walk slowly, pausing often
Do not hurry as you walk with grief
Be not disturbed by memories
that come unbidden
Swiftly forgive and let
Unspoken words, unfinished conversations
be resolved in your memories
Be not disturbed
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief
If it is you, be gentle with yourself
Swiftly forgive, walk slowly,
Be gentle as you walk with grief
Medically we talk of 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Feeling numb is common in the early days after a bereavement. Some people at first carry on as if nothing has happened. Even if we know with our heads that someone has died it can be hard to believe that someone important is not coming back. It’s also very common to feel the presence of someone who has died.
Anger is a completely natural emotion, and very natural after someone dies. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or you had plans for the future together. It’s also common to feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do before their death.
When we are in pain, it’s sometimes hard to accept that there’s nothing we can do to change things. Bargaining is when we start to make deals with ourselves, or perhaps with God if you’re religious. We want to believe that if we act in particular ways we will feel better. It’s also common to find ourselves going over and over things that happened in the past and asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, wishing we could go back and change things in the hope that things could have turned out differently.
Sadness and longing are what we think of most often when we think about grief. This pain can be very intense and come in waves over many months or years. Life can feel as if it no longer holds any meaning, which can be very scary.
Grief comes in waves, and it can feel as if nothing will ever be right again. But most people find that gradually the pain eases, and it is possible to accept what has happened. We may never ‘get over’ the death of someone precious, but we can learn to live again, while keeping the memories of those we have lost close to us.
These stages may be helpful in your understanding of what is happening to you but not everyone experiences all of them.
Why is death different for Christians ?
For those who have committed their lives to Jesus, death for us is simply a transition to something much better. We will all die.
In Hebrews 9 v 27 we read: It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement, but for those who are the Lord’s there is no judgement because Jesus bore our sins on the cross. Death has lost its sting .
I Corinthians 15 v 55 -58
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
John14 v 1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Although we still grieve for those we love and we weep, if they were Christians we have a certainty that they are with the Lord and that one day we will meet again. The sting of death has gone.
If as you read this you are uncertain of your own eternal destiny please find someone who can help you to know Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Contributed by Christine Sansom (MMN Trustee)