Are you currently going through a time of famine? As many of you know, famines can come in many shapes and sizes. Marriages sometimes suffer famines and so do parent-child relationships. Friendships go through famines and so do our finances. Even churches sometime find themselves in a time of spiritual famine.
The Bible tells of a time when the nation of Israel was experiencing a famine. The Jews had wandered away from God and in order to cause them to return, the Lord sent them a famine. The book of Ruth tells of how one man reacted to his famine. Rather than repenting of his sins and returning back to God, Elimelech ran to the land of Moab. Though running might seem like an option, it is never the right thing to do. Scripture says that during his time of running, both Elimelech and his two sons died.
Running is not the right reaction; neither is rebellion. As we read on in the story of Ruth we learn that the time came when there was food once again in Israel. Upon hearing this, Elimelech’s widow, named Naomi, returned home.
So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. “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 1:19-21)
Though Naomi had returned to Bethlehem, she hadn’t return to God. The famines in her life had not helped her; they had only made her bitter. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.” Naomi had become bitter towards life and especially towards God.
Neither running nor rebelling is the right response during a time of famine. Instead we must learn to rest. Consider how the Apostle Paul reacted to his famine.
2 Corinthians 12:7 “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
Like any of us, Paul wanted to get out of his famine as quickly as possible. Three times he pleaded with God to take it away. Yet the Lord had something else in mind.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”
Strange as it may sound, Paul’s famine was God-sent. God was allowing His servant to experience a famine so that God might demonstrate His miraculous power. Consider how Paul responded once he discovered this truth.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Rather than running from his famine, or rebelling against God, Paul learned to rest in God’s sufficient grace.