What leaves you empty?
Someone else who felt empty was Naomi. Reading in Ruth 1:21, Naomi says: “I went out full and the LORD has brought me home again empty.” Naomi had spent ten years in enemy territory but in that foreign land she lost so much. Her husband died. And maybe even more heartbreaking, she lost both of her sons. They were her babies she carried in her womb, gave birth to, watched them toddle, run, and finally make it to adulthood. Those children Naomi loved so well were taken from her.
What was left? In her eyes nothing was left. She didn’t even see the young woman beside her because of her grief. Grief is the great emptier, isn’t? When someone dies a hole appears in our lives. A hole that we think will never be filled and it leaves us feeling so empty. Naomi had left with dreams, desires, and a full hands. Years later she returns empty.
It feels wrong to be empty, doesn’t it? Only Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering…” Paul was saying his ministry was to be emptied. The idea of “poured out” means to be emptied. To be spent, used, and left without. The apostle offered his life, relationships, his work, and his calling onto the altar of God to minister for the Gospel. It is sometimes a good thing to feel the emptiness of life. Because that’s when God is able to fill us.
As Naomi came back to Bethlehem, her daughter-in-law decided to go to work. We know the story, don’t we? Ruth goes to work in a field and “happens” by the field of Boaz. Not only will Boaz prove to be the Redeemer of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz was a righteous man. Remember Ruth takes places during the time of Judges. In Judges 21:25 we read how everyone did what was right in their own eyes. We can imagine most of the men during that time would not have been as upstanding as Boaz.
After Ruth comes back from the field, she shows her mother-in-law what she has gleaned. I can see the apron of Ruth fall open, spilling the provisions on the floor in front of Naomi. The woman who felt God had abandoned her and left her empty was suddenly given a full measure of food. Can you picture Naomi’s response in seeing so much food? She says, “Where did you go today!?” In astonishment, she listens as Ruth tells her of the kindness of Boaz and suddenly Naomi remembers. She remembers God.
What Leaves You Empty?
God does not forget His kindness. Naomi’s redemption was beginning to take form. But let’s not forget she had to empty herself first. Sometimes God empties us before He fills us.
What does God fill Naomi with? His kindness. Naomi says, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness.”(Ruth 2:20) The word “kindness” is the Hebrew word, “checed.” This word means, God’s covenant-keeping love. The love in which God shows through His promises is the kindness Naomi witnessed as Ruth showed her the grain from that day’s work.
The kindness of God is also spoken about in Psalm 33:20-22. It says, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him because he have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in you.” The word “mercy” is the same word, ‘checed.’ God’s covenant-keeping love is the reason we still have hope in our empty seasons of life.
When we talk about God being our portion, sometimes we must remember God’s kindness to us. The kindness of God is not based on our own merit but on the faithfulness of God. Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” God will be our portion and in this truth we see the kindness of God.
Let’s end with one of my favorite Psalms. Psalm 42 says: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?…..(verse 5) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance…..(verse 7) Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”
The lovingkindness of God will follow us – through all of the “deep waters” or storms in our lives. The mercy and “checed” of God will keep us close to the truth of His promises. God’s promises are true. Are you feeling empty today? Can you rejoice in your emptiness, looking to God to fill it? My children who need me to pour their drinks for them do not worry whether I will give them something for their thirst. They trust their mother to help them with their emptiness. Like my sweet children, set your empty cup before the Lord, expecting Him to fill it.
As we close, let’s look at Psalm 33 again to be reminded of God’s promises which can be used today to start filling our emptiness.
- God’s Word is true. (verse 4)
- God is good. (verse 5)
- God is our Creator and cares for His creation (verses 6-9). The word “stood fast” in verse 9 has the connotation of God keeping the world together. God holds it all together by the power of His hand.
- God is in control. (verses 10-12)
- God sees all that is going on in the world. (verses 13-17)
- God saves those who trust in Him. (verses 18-19)
- God is our help and our protection. (verse 20)
- God will not disappoint us. (verse 21)
- God’s kindness always wins! (verse 22)
- What Leaves You Empty?
Do you believe these promises are true? I could take you to verse after verse after verse in the Bible about God’s promises. Are you trusting in God to fill your loneliness? Your emptiness? To help you in your grief or heartache or worry? I recently asked some Bible study girls these questions: Will you take God at His word? Will you simply believe Him? What would change in your life if you took God at His word, even just for today?