At the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi was bitter. No doubt about it. She said she was bitter. She changed her name to “Bitter.” (That’s what “Mara” means.) Preachers and writers often point to her as an example of sinful bitterness.
When many preachers and writers talk about Naomi they say that she—and you—should instead be like Joseph in the book of Genesis. After he was betrayed by his brothers, he said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
But there are a couple of problems with this way of thinking. For one thing, when we look at the word bitter elsewhere in the Bible, we can see that the majority of the time, it’s talking about grief. Naomi was grieving. (Untwisting Scriptures talks about what grief really is and how a lot of people don’t understand it and don’t want to acknowledge it.)
And there’s another important point we should observe about Naomi in contrast to Joseph. Continue reading