Last time we left off talking about what hinders us from being our sister's keeper. We will look at the example in the Book of Ruth to guide our discussion. What hinders us can be a wrong decision, wrong direction or wrong disposition.
In Ruth 1 :1-5 we find Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons leaving Bethlehem to travel to Moab to escape famine. Elimelech and Naomi leave the comfort of their homeland to go to a nation that practiced polygamy and worshipped idol gods. Naomi was in partnership with her husband in this wrong decision and finds herself not only a widow, but a grieving mother left with non-Jewish daughters-in-law. We, also can attest to having made wrong decisions that left us with heavy consequences. How many times have we sisters fallen for the Denzel face and the Schwarzenegger body, for the 10¢ promise of the sun, moon and stars that resulted in unwanted pregnancies, unwanted marriages, abandonment, abuse, divorce and more? How many times have we gotten tired of waiting on God and decided that we know what's best for our situation--only to mess things up badly and pray for deliverance?
Wrong decisions hinder us from being our sister's keeper. When we make wrong decisions we feel so incompetent to help anyone else that we don't attempt to help others through their circumstances. Naomi surely felt that she couldn't help her daughters-in-law. What could she possibly offer after the wrong decision that left her empty and desolate? We must understand, however, that we might, in fact, continue to make wrong decisions but they must never hinder us from supporting one another.
Wrong direction v. 6-18. After losing everything Naomi instructs her daughters-in-law to go back to their heathen culture. She was so swallowed up by self-pity and anguish that she could not offer them direction. We are hindered from being our sister's keeper because we have not transferred our own brokenness to God and allowed Him to use our trials as an example for someone else. When we take a wrong turn--any turn that leads us to star in our own drama or dance at our own pity party--anything but trust in the Lord--we cannot provide our sisters with an encouraging word because we are too absorbed in our own situation to notice her and her pain.
Wrong disposition v. 19-22. Naomi was destitute and grief-stricken. She believed that the Lord had dealt with her harshly. She had trusted Him, was submissive by following her husband, and now she was to return home to Bethlehem empty. By focusing on the negative she became so bitter that she could not see the devoted daughter-in-law that the Lord had given her in place of her loss. When she arrived back home the people remembered and noticed her saying "Is this Naomi?", but she replied, "Do not call me Naomi--call me Mara (bitter) for the Lord hath dealt bitterly with me."
A wrong disposition will not only hinder us from being our sister's keeper, but it will also alienate us from her as well. Why would anyone want to glean from your life's experiences, or be encouraged by your testimony of God's goodness as demonstrated in your life--If you appear to be bound, to have no joy and no victory? We must believe through our trials and tribulations that "all things work together for our good." Through our persecutions and tests the Lord wants us to trust Him and continue to be an encouragement to others of what He can do! It is often when we put our problems aside and be obedient in helping others that the Lord works out our situation and even if he doesn't deliver us at the time, he definitely gives us peace through them!
After we allow the Lord to break through what is hindering us from being our sisters keeper--whether it be wrong decisions, wrong directions or wrong dispositions - we can rise above them and provide for one another the supportive ear, the welcoming arms, and the prayerful lips that God has given us to use to restore one another in times of trouble and distress. Let's reach out to one another because we are our sister's keeper!