Jun 18, 2017 | Lee Becknell

The Weight of Frustration and Bitterness

Today is the day that we honor fathers. That’s me! Yea!

In the frozen-foods department of our local grocery store, A man shopping with his son. He checked something off his list, then whispered to his son, “You know, if we really mess this up, we’ll never have to do it again.”

When my dad ran out of gas, he called mom to pick him up in her car. They went to a gas station, filled a can, and returned to his car. After a few minutes, he got into her car again. “We need to go back to the gas station,” he said. “One gallon wasn’t enough?” mom replied. “It would have been if I’d put it in the right car.”

Dad is old school: he keeps all his money in the underwear drawer. One day I bought him a personal safe in the shape of a paint can with a false bottom, so he could keep his money in the workshop instead. Later I asked Mom if he was using it. “Oh yes—he put his money in it the same day,” she said. “No burglar would think to look on the work shelf!” I gloated. “They won’t have to,” mom replied. “He keeps the paint can in his underwear drawer.”

Before I took the old family car to college, my father loaded the trunk with soft drink bottles filled with oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. Sure enough, my car overheated. Scolding myself for not listening to my father’s instructions, I looked at the engine and saw how well he knew me. The oil cap was labeled Dr Pepper, the transmission stick, Coke, and the empty coolant container, Diet Pepsi. I finished the trip safely.

On a brutally hot day, I walked past a miniature golf course and saw a dad following three small children from hole to hole. “Who’s winning?” I shouted. “I am,” said one kid. “Me,” said another. “No, me,” yelled the third. Sweat dripping down his face, the dad gasped, “Their mother is.”

“The Weight of Frustration and Bitterness.”

Ruth 1:19-22

Theme: “Just because you are coming back to the Lord doesn’t mean that you will immediately experience joy and relief from you circumstances. In many cases returning home just reminds us how much we have lost and suffered. This happened to Naomi. When she finally returns home she see everyone living as if nothing has happened and it just makes her feel worse.”

She really felt empty. While she lost most of her material possessions, her emptiness stemmed from the loss of relationships.

Amazingly, the God that she blamed for her trouble had already taken a major step to filling the void in her life.

Romans 8:28; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The Lord, intended to use Ruth to transform Mara back into Naomi. Healing would take some time, but it would come.

Beloved we need to understand this: God uses us to heal and transform people who are suffering from bitterness and frustration.

"Return" is a key word in the first chapter of Ruth. It illustrates repentance. And it reminds us that one can build or recover his or her relationships if he is willing to respond properly to the problems that strain them. In order to do so, one must make a firm decision to stay and salvage the relationship.

This morning I would like to share with you the following lessons we find in the book of Ruth.

1. Bitterness can change our physical appearance and affect our decisions.

Ruth 1:19; “So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

Emotional pain that goes untreated can poison even the strongest Christian. They may wear a smile at church or put up a façade of happiness, but deep down they harbor bitterness.

And eventually, bitterness infects every relationship.

Naomi freely admits that she had grown bitter over time [1:20a]. Do you remember the meaning of her name? Naomi means "pleasant one." But now she desires to be known as "Mara", which means "bitter one." Let me make an observation about bitterness from Naomi's experience.

Bitter people tend to blame others for their trouble

At the risk of sounding insensitive to her trials, we must ask, "Who created her problems?" The answer: She and her husband. Remember they made the decision. God did not make them go to Moab.

Like many, she primarily blames God. Notice three phrases:

  1. 1:13 "the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!"
  2. 1:20 "the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."
  3. 1:21 "the Almighty has afflicted me?"

Ruth use the name for God: El Shaddai which is commonly translated “Almighty”

The name "Almighty" (El Shaddai) has great significance here. Adam Clark writes that she was suggesting, "He who is self-sufficient has taken away the props and supports of my life."

Compare this with her words in verse 8,

Ruth 1:8; “Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.”

The Hebrew word “hesed” (show kindness) is Naomi’s prayer for her daughter-in-law’s but she uses the covenant name of God (Yaweh) in this verse. It shows her understanding of God.

People typically blame God for one or more of several misplaced reasons. [1] We don't know whom to blame. [2] We expect God to override the consequences of our personal failures. [3] We expect God to fix immediately what we have taken years to progressively damage.

2. People not in crisis can sometimes increase the pain for those still in crisis.

Ruth 1:19-20; “So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” 20“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

I would like to suggest to you that just as the town was stirred up Naomi’s emotions were stirred up and I don’t think she was expecting this.

Most likely Naomi had no idea how much it was going to hurt coming home.

No one would suggest that the pain, heartache, and disappointment that Naomi felt were illegitimate. Nor would we minimize the burden she carried.

She certainly felt overwhelmed when her life in a distant land began to completely unravel. Consider what she lost in ten years’ time: [1] her husband – 1:3, [2] her children- 1:5, [3] her security, [4] her possessions – 1:21, [5] her status – 1:19, [6] her reputation – 1:19, and [7] her closeness to God - 1:13.

Throughout, this story you will see how God uses the women of Bethlehem, Ruth and eventually Boaz.

Ruth 2:19-20; “So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said. 20“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”

Ruth gathers enough for about 10 days for the both of them. Then she pulls out the food she saved when she had lunch with Boaz (the concept of a to go box). We will read about exciting date in a few weeks.

Naomi comments that God has not forgotten her. In fact, God lets her be a match maker. Something I think she really enjoyed.

3. God had already started healing Naomi and He used Ruth to begin the process.

Ruth 1:22; “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.”

When Naomi said she was "empty", she must have forgotten about Ruth.

God was going to use Ruth to restore Naomi.

Psalm 34:18; “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 147:3; “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Matthew 11:28; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Charlotte Elliot of Brighton, England, was an embittered woman. Her health was broken, and her disability had hardened her. "If God loved me," she muttered, "He would not have treated me this way." Hoping to help her, a Swiss minister named Dr. Cesar Malan visited the Elliotts in May of 1822. During dinner, Charlotte lost her temper and railed against God and family in a violent outburst. Her embarrassed family left the room, and Dr. Malan, left alone with her, stared at her across the table.

"Your are tired of yourself, aren't you?" he said. "You are holding to your hate and anger because you have nothing else in the world to cling to. Consequently, you have become sour, bitter, and resentful." "What is your cure?" asked Charlotte. "The faith you are trying to despise." As they talked, Charlotte softened. She said, "If I wanted to become a Christian and to share the peace and joy you possess, what would I do?"

"You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fighting’s and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame," he answered. "I would come to God just as I am? Is that right?" Charlotte did come just as she was. Her heart was changed that very day. And as time passed, she found and claimed John 6:37 as a special verse for her . . . "he who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." Several years later, her brother, Rev. Henry Elliott, was raising funds for a school for the children of poor clergymen. Charlotte wrote a poem and it was printed and sold across England. That poem has since become the most famous invitational hymn in history.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Hymnologist J.R. Watson notes that there is a beautiful structure in this hymn, “from the nakedness of ‘Just as I am’ to the climax of ‘O Lamb of God, I come!’” 


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