Despite deep loss, Naomi sees the day when Allah restores her joy. This engaging story ends in a timely call to trust that God’s mercy is available to any woman who will fully trust in Him.
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Showers of Mercy
Copyright © 2018 GC WM
Naomi – Showers of Mercy
Authored by Jamile Mansour Al-Kindi
Translation by Adventist Commons
Cover and Layout Design by Adventist Commons
Illustrations by Carlos Seribelli and Paula Lobo
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Showers of Mercy
“Goodbye, old house.” A sob caught in Naomi’s throat as she gazed one last time at the friendly clay walls that had sheltered her small family. “Goodbye, memories.” In a moment of sudden longing, memories surged to the forefront of her mind of the meals shared here, the smiling faces lit by candlelight, and the family dreams discussed heartily over tea. She tightened her grip on the black fabric cascading from her shoulders. Black was the only color she had worn since the tragic day her husband died. She remembered a time when she had worn purple, blue, and gold—in the days when this house had heard the energetic footsteps of her two sons, the warm laughter of her husband, and the clinking teacups of neighbors and friends—but those were golden years that would never return. A bitter wind whistled through the empty rooms that seemed to chill her own heart.
“Naomi?” A quiet voice nudged her out of her final goodbyes. “Everything is packed. We’re ready to go.” A slim, pale-faced young woman stood silhouetted in the doorway. She, too, wore black. “You’re remembering, aren’t you?” She drew close and put an arm around the older woman. Naomi buried her forehead in her daughter-in-law’s neck and sobbed. The memories were crushing her, ruthlessly dancing just out of reach.
“It’s gone,” Naomi whispered, “everything is gone. My husband, my sons, my future… I have nothing left to live for.”
“Yes, Naomi,” Raouth remonstrated, “Allah will restore joy to us if we trust His kindness.”
Naomi put her wrinkled hand to her face. “The Lord’s hand has been heavy against me. I will return to my country, lest the memories of this house haunt me forever.” The two women clung to each other, unwillingly reliving the horrible events leading up to last week’s double funeral. In one instant, Naomi lost both her sons. Raouth and ‘Urfah, her cherished daughters-in-law, had cried for days, but nothing could bring their husbands—Naomi’s sons—back to life.
Naomi straightened up and stitched her gray eyebrows together in a determined line. She would be strong now, if only for her two daughters-in-law. Dabbing the corner of her eyes with the black veil, she turned herself away from the house. The pit of her stomach twisted with a gnawing, aching desperation to reverse these awful events and go back, back, back to the happier days… but there was no going back, only forward. Naomi strode outside onto the dirt path where ‘Urfah was tying the last items together. Hoisting a waiting basket onto her shoulder, Naomi gripped the bridle of the loaded donkey. “Let’s go.”
A Sorrowful Path
The path to the region of the People of Musa stretched out like an endless, sand-colored snake, disappearing on the horizon. Naomi and her little family had come as refugees here to the land of Moab many years ago because of a catastrophic famine in their home. Because of their hardworking, honest habits and hospitable nature, they had been well received into the Moabite community. After Naomi’s sons grew up, they had even taken wives from Moab.
Though of a pagan background, Raouth developed a deep interest in her husband’s religion. Eventually, she forsook her idols and prayed the Shema, the affirmation of the oneness of Allah as affirmed by the People of Musa: Hear, O Israeel: the Lord our God is One Lord.
Naomi formed a loving attachment to both of her daughters-in-law, but especially to Raouth. Now they had lost a man that both hearts loved, and they tried their best to comfort each other. Naomi felt relieved to know that she would not have to return to her homeland alone. Even in the midst of heart-rending tragedy, she felt a bit consoled to know that Raouth and ‘Urfah would sustain her in her old age.
The little trio of women, traveling slowly up the dirt path, reached the crest of a hilly overlook. They stopped to look back as the golden plains of Moab stretched out behind them. It was early spring; ripening barley fields swayed beneath the soft touch of gentle breezes. Happy songbirds flitted between tree branches. Everything in the warm, gentle scene seemed to open its arms in a soothing embrace, begging the travelers not to leave.
As the three women absorbed the panorama, Naomi suddenly noticed ‘Urfah and Raouth gazing with longing at a faraway cluster of homes. With a shock, Naomi realized that they were passing the village where her daughters-in-law had grown up. Their families still lived there and tended the fields, just as they had done years ago when Naomi visited their mothers to request the two young women for her sons. With a surge of inner shame, Naomi realized how selfish it was for her to carry ‘Urfah and Raouth back to the People of Musa with her. Yes, they would dutifully care for her and love her in her old age, but how much better it would be for them to return to their families! The Moabite nation had no customs against widows remarrying—her daughters-in-law were still young and beautiful, and could remarry. They could have children and a future. With a plump-faced, sparkly-eyed baby in their arms, they would forget about the pain of this horrific week.
A Solemn Covenant
“Go back, my daughters,” Naomi’s voice cracked. She knew she was sealing her fate to beg upon the streets, alone and vulnerable. “Each of you, return to your mother’s house. May Allah deal kindly with you as you have dealt with my sons and with me.” Pulling the young women towards her, she kissed them both, holding them tightly, perhaps the last time she would ever embrace them. She dreaded the terror of being alone, but how could she destroy their futures just to satisfy the needs of one old woman?
Raouth and ‘Urfah began weeping in confusion, surprised by Naomi’s sudden instructions and torn between their childhood homes and their beloved mother-in-law. The younger women exclaimed that they would not leave her alone, and made no move to depart. Naomi cried aloud in anguish. “Why do you want to remain with me?” she sobbed. “Are there any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Go back, my daughters, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I could say I had hope, if I would have a husband tonight and bear sons from him, would you wait until my sons were grown? No, my daughters; I am greatly grieved for your sakes that the hand of Allah has moved against me.”
Naomi had tried her best to remember any sin she had done to displease Allah, but she could think of nothing. In bitter anguish, she only could conclude that He had brought this great trial upon her to test her heart. She would bear it patiently, but with a weight of pain that few could understand.
Looking again in wistful longing to the distant village, ‘Urfah wiped the tears from her face. Kissing her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, she shouldered her bundle and stepped off the path, cutting through the barley fields towards her family’s home. Her decision had been made. But strangely, Raouth clung to Naomi, unmovable.
“Don’t ask me to leave you,” Raouth responded with determination. “Wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your Lord will by my Lord. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
Allah be witness between us today, if anything except death part you and me.” Fresh tears welled up in Naomi’s eyes. Raouth’s affirmation of loyalty was the first reminder—in a long time—that Allah still had mercy remaining for Naomi. Clutching the donkey’s bridle once more, Naomi turned her back to the swaying, golden fields. There was only one way to go—forward. Together, with the help of Allah, they would make it.
Healing and Joy to Come
Plodding wearily along the path towards the region of the People of Musa, Naomi had no idea what to expect in the future. She could have never guessed how this painful trial from Allah would end in joyful restoration. She didn’t foresee the wonderful twist of events that would lead to Raouth being married to one of the wealthiest, most compassionate men in the tribe. Nor could she predict that Raouth would bear a baby destined to be the grandfather of the great prophet Daoud. The story is too long and wonderful to be recorded here. No… as Naomi trudged down the trail, she could not foresee the beautiful plan of Allah—but Allah saw her and felt her pain. The mighty Creator, who painted the fields with flowers and hung the sky with stars just to make us happy, has plans for us to know true happiness, no matter what losses we have experienced. Naomi would be happy again, and you can be, too. But first, Naomi had to bury the past. She had to place her beloved husband and sons in the cold ground and walk away from the house that had nestled all her dreams and warmest memories. The past was gone, and Naomi had to accept that loss and move on. Only when she turned her face to the rising sun and began looking for a new life could she recover from the tragic loss that otherwise would have slowly drained the life out of her own body.
Have you experienced loss or pain that seems to rip your heart out of your chest? You are not alone: many people are suffering catastrophic losses in this time of earth’s history. Families are being torn apart by war, betrayal, and sickness. Homes are being destroyed. Dreams are being shattered. In Naomi’s darkest hour, when she unselfishly tried to send Raouth and ‘Urfah away—thus dooming herself to a life of lonely poverty—Allah began to send the first drops of compassion upon her. Raouth’s loyalty was the first in many events that signaled to Naomi that Allah was lifting the drought of grief and showering mercy upon her soul.
Perhaps you have been wondering if Allah has any mercy left for you, if He has any plans of beauty and restoration for you. Will you, like Naomi, choose to live a life unselfishly devoted to Allah even in your darkest days? Will you wait trustingly for the Lord to reveal His perfect plans?
Naomi and Raouth were widowed refugees—hard-pressed by poverty and torn by oppressive grief. It is difficult to imagine how their situation could have been any worse. But imagine—Raouth became the great-grandmother of the honorable prophet Daoud, and Naomi raised Raouth’s child upon her knees. The horrible tragedies they had endured did not mean that Allah had forsaken them. He still cared for them and sent mercy down when they needed it most. And if Allah rained down healing and restoration upon Raouth and Naomi, He can do the same for you. Keep looking up towards the heavens: today may be the day you feel the first drops.
Poor, widowed, and alone in a foreign country, Naomi turns her face towards her famine-wracked homeland. She will go back, but a surprise will attend her. Little does she know that she is destined to become a famed ancestor of the great Prophet Daoud.
More stories from the Tawrat and Injeel:
Abigail / Hajar / Jochabed / The Woman at the Well
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