I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1:21)
You can only fill something when its empty. Like when I’m putting milk in the coffee machine I have to make sure there isn’t a drop of the old milk left in the milk container because if any old milk is left in there, the new milk sours quickly. The same may be said about starting again. Sometimes its best to empty things out and start all over again. Naomi says that the Lord has brought her back empty. A few years ago she was full. She had had a husband, sons, daughters in law and they were wealthy enough to immigrate to another country where there were better prospects. Turn the clock forward a few years and she ends up back in her own country like a refugee without a husband, no children – which in her day and age meant no savings – and without any hope. It was so bad she sent her daughter in law out to beg and rummage through leftovers in the barley fields. Naomi was empty. She had hopes and dreams of a better life in a foreign country and now here she was, back to square one, with so much less than she had before. She was so empty she felt as if her very identity had been changed which is why she wanted to get rid of her name ‘Naomi’ which means pleasant spirit. But there is incredible hope in her words. Look at what she says: “… and the Lord has brought me back empty.” True, we can focus on the word ‘empty’ and Naomi did. But Naomi speaks better than she knows. Focus instead on her words ‘the Lord has brought me back.’ It was the Lord who was at work. It was the Almighty who had brought calamity on her. But God does not empty us in order to leave us empty. Instead, God empties us in order to start again and fill us again. Not with all the stuff we were filled with. If He did that, it would all turn sour. He wants to fill us with Himself. He wants to bring us back to Himself. This has been the experience of millions of Christians. Newton said that the Lord weans us off all our schemes of earthly joy so that we can find our joy in Him because this is the joy that will never sour. As Author Peter Kreeft says, “Before God can comfort the afflicted He must afflict the comfortable.” The rest of the story of Ruth is the story of how God fills Naomi with more than she ever had. PRAY that you would fully believe and trust that if God takes things away from you it is only so that He can give you more of Himself in their place.