Full and Empty

Michael Wilcock

READ : Ruth 1:19-22

The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. (v. 20)

In a normal year in Israel, harvesting went on all summer long. Barley, the first crop,
was ready for reaping by April in the fields around Bethlehem. There had been empty barns
in the famine years, but this year they would be full.

Back to this happy place came Naomi. Was she, like the old friends who met her, full of
the joys of spring? She was not. In fact they hardly recognized her.

She was honest. “How are things? How are you?” people ask us, and we often find it
easiest to reply “Fine, fine,” even if it isn’t true. I am not fine, says Naomi. I am not
a pleasant (“naomi”) person any more, I am a bitter (“mara”) one. Out comes her honest
answer. Ten years ago her life was full; now it is empty. And it is God’s fault!

We can hear the bitterness in her voice. He is a loving, faithful “Lord,” is he? He is “Almighty,” is he? This God who is supposed to have such power and make such promises—look what he has done for me!

Yet in fact he really is that sort of God, and he shows it most clearly when his people really are in need. She has not long to wait, to find out that this is true.


Lord, thank you that you fill the hungry with good things. Amen.