When Tragedy Strikes

The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:2-5, NKJV)

When Elimelech (his name means “God is my King”) and his family came to Moab, they did not find life easier. Elimelech soon died, and his wife Naomi (her name means “pleasantness”) was left to care for their two boys, Mahlon (his name means “infirmity”) and Chilion (his name means “wasting away”).

It is hard to say that this was the direct hand of God’s judgment against them. It is sometimes difficult to discern why tragic things happen. What is certain is that the change of scenery didn’t make things better.

There are times when we think we can move away from our problems, but find we just bring them with us. No matter where you go, you bring yourself with you, so the same problems can continue in a different place.

Mahlon and Chilion grew and took wives among the Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. Again, this was not in obedience to God; God commanded the Israelites to not marry among the pagan nations surrounding them.

As time went on (about ten years) Naomi’s sons died. So now there were three childless widows, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes of people in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no family in Moab, and no one else to help her. She was in a desperate situation.

How would you react if you were in Naomi’s place when tragedy strikes?

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