Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Ruth 1:1-22 and John 21:1-14.

Ruth 1:20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” (NIV)

Two years ago, my wife and I brought a newcomer into our home. She was called Mara and she was only seven years old. Mara was a puppy-mill mama who had been kept in a cage for most of her life with other Shih tzu dogs. She had been badly abused and had been inhumanely treated to make money for the puppy-mill breeders. Mara had produced two litters of puppies a year and her body was covered in scars where the breeders sectioned her to ensure that the puppies were ready for special holidays like Christmas or Easter. Her life was very bitter indeed, so her name suited her because Mara means bitterness in Hebrew.

We rescued Mara, but refused to call her by that bitter name. She is now known as Addie – short for Adorable – and we are blessed with her company and friendship. When she first came to our home, we had to keep her leash on because she ran away from us and hid in different corners of the house. She was scared and the only place that she felt safe was in the cage that we had. She would rest her head against the bars, touching them for security because that is all that she knew.

These days, Addie is a wee loving and sociable dog who has become our best friend. She sits beside us on the sofa as we watch television and plays with her toys. Every now and then, she prefers her own company and wanders into her cage. I guess she’ll never be cured of the trauma she experienced, however, as the years go by, I know her life is becoming much sweeter.

In today’s Bible passage (Ruth 1:1-22), we come across Naomi, whose Hebrew name means ‘sweetness.’ Sadly, she has undergone several painful tragedies with the loss of her husband and sons; she no longer considers herself to be ‘Naomi,’ but insists on being called ‘Mara’ because the bitterness in her life is hard to bear. She feels let down by God and believes that her life has been ruined. However, as the story of Ruth progresses, her sweetness will one day return through the grace of God.

Perhaps you’re having a hard time right now. Maybe you’re experiencing some pain or tragedy that has left you with broken dreams and a bunch of bitterness. It could be you feel forsaken by God and bereft of any joy. Those moments can be very difficult to carry and endure, but even in the midst of painful circumstances that we all experience, God is usually quietly, simply, and effectively carrying us.

Point to ponder:  What is hurting me currently? Am I willing to ask God to help me?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, You know the pain of being human and understand the suffering that we all experience in our lives. Help us to endure the hurt and overcome any fear or bitterness that overshadow us. In Your Gracious Name, we pray. Amen.

If you have any questions or comments about today’s message, please feel free to send John an email to

Today’s image is of Addie  🙂