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Spirit of Mara// By Bethany Thomas

By November 8, 2017All Posts

Please read Ruth 1:1-6 and listen to the song “It is Well” before reading today’s devotional.



When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul


Imagine, for just a second, that you have it all: the house, the husband, and the kids. You followed your husband to another country because he had a job offer that could change your lives.  He takes the job and you move your whole household 600 miles away, when you get there the unthinkable happens— your husband dies. You stay where you are because it’s easier to stay then go all the way home. You and your boys settle, they get married to two lovely local girls and everything seems fine.  Except 10 years later your boys die in a tragic work accident. Leaving behind their mother and wives with nothing. How peaceful and positive would you be?


It is too easy to NOT fall into a dark mood after horrible circumstances like above; our instinct is to blame and question God. “Is this really where you want me? Lord is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” As a widow with no sons, Naomi was practically destitute. This is why she decided to return to her people and kinsmen, just to survive:


Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi […] got ready leave Moab to return to her homeland.

Ruth 1:6 


In church, this week we sang the song “It is Well” and honestly, it wasn’t all well with me. What do you do when all is not well with your soul? Like Naomi I am fighting against the spirit of bitterness. I try so hard to not be negative about everything, but when one bad thing after another happens all I want to do is cry. I start to view everything in a negative light: My job, my marriage, my relationships— I am quick to see the bad instead of the good. Part of it comes from not wanting to be disappointed and what is the easiest way to not be heartbroken? Assume your fear will happen. Naomi from the book of Ruth is a very sorrowful example of what I’m talking about. She became bitter over things she had no control over:


“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”  

Ruth 1:20-21


Naomi literally asks people to call her “Mara” which means “bitter.” I haven’t gone so far as to rename myself “Negative Nelly” or “Debbie Downer” but others in my life, sisters and mother, have called me out on it. I must purposely and consistently remind myself that God is the one who blesses and not curses. Naomi blamed God for what happened to her family and in her distress, she forgot to thank God for his blessings-Ruth.


Each of us has a little Negative Nelly lurking deep inside us. But honestly? Nelly is a spirit of bitterness that is sent by the enemy to trip us up and keep us from our true purposes. My purpose is to praise the Lord’s name through writing, to encourage my husband, and cram as much of the Bible’s wisdom as I can to continue His kingdom.


Naomi’s life was full of tragedy, but there was also hope.  She had an amazing daughter-in-law who stayed with her despite knowing that she would be better off going back to her own parents and marrying again. Find the Ruth in your life. The Lord has given each of us something or someone to help us in our struggles.


Write down all the struggles you are going through at this moment and next to each struggle write a blessing you have seen from God. Search the Bible for encouragement in the areas that are hurting the most. It’s amazing what can be found in the good book.


Featured image by Yuliya Ginzburg

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