A Look at Depression: Naomi

The darkness of grief and depression can smother out the light of any hope and faith we may have.

The story of Naomi and her grief and depression is found in the book of Ruth. Naomi was the wife of a man named Elimilech. Naomi and Elimilech had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. This family lived in Bethlehem until a famine came to the land and they moved to Moab. There in Moab, the two sons married Moabite women. Mahlon married Ruth and Kilion married Orpah. In the years that followed first Naomi’s husband, Elimilech, died and then Naomi’s sons also died.

Imagine the sorrow in Naomi’s heart losing her husband and sons, and still being in a foreign country. Naomi and her daughters-in-laws lost their providers and protectors. They were suddenly vulnerable with no person to stand up for them or take care of them. Or so it seems when your faith has faded and you see no reason for hope. Naomi only knew bitterness in her heart and the hopelessness of an unknown future.

Naomi came to believe that the Lord was punishing her and blames Him for her sorrow. She grew very bitter. With nowhere else to turn she decided that she would go back to her home country. She was prepared to do the trip alone, but her daughter-in-law Ruth offered to go with. Naomi refused, but Ruth was insistent.

Reading this account of Naomi’s life made me realize how she totally missed the reality of the grief her daughters-in-law must be experiencing. She could only see and feel her own pain.

Yet, Ruth still wanted to go with Naomi, despite Naomi’s bitter attitude. And so the two women returned to Naomi’s home country and were greeted by the local women. Naomi told them not to call her by her name which means “pleasant” but instead to call her Mara which means “bitter.”

Naomi was very depressed. She couldn’t see anything but the darkness, she couldn’t feel anything but the pain within and only responded with blame towards the Lord.

Grief can bring despair and depression, and Naomi had a lot to grieve about, first losing her husband and then her two sons.

When we suffer pain and loss in life it is easy to feel tempted to blame God. It is common to question Him and ask “why.” We often don’t understand His purpose in allowing such deep sorrow in our lives.

My depression stemmed from sorrow that I had buried when I was young. The grief within was hidden away for many years until it was triggered by a friend losing her mom. Then my buried grief spilled out in endless tears and my deep depression became apparent.

The pain of loss, whether it is that of a husband, child, parent, grandparent, or close friend, can be devastating. When your heart is attached to a loved one, the separation of death feels unbearable.

I was able to work through my grief all those years later in therapy. I said goodbye and let the pain spill out for my loss. I also worked through the many issues that the loss had brought about.

My heart wanted the need for the one I lost to be filled with the nurturing love that had been taken away by death. I wanted it to be done my way. But God… yes, He had a different, better plan for me. And that was true for Naomi as well. The Lord brought a man named Boaz into Ruth’s life as she tried to get food for her and Naomi. Boaz ended up marrying Ruth and together they had a child. The Lord blessed them with new hope and new life.

The darkness of grief and depression can smother any hope and faith we may have. We just can’t see how anything good is possible in the midst of the pain. We lose sight of the Lord, the God of the impossible. But He can bring hope, He can heal our hearts and nurture us in our neediness.

Oh, I know the pain is not erased. But the Lord works in and through our pain to help us know Him and His love in greater and deeper ways.

Naomi learned of the Lord’s faithfulness. The Lord supplied her with a “kinsman”. He blessed Boaz and Ruth with a son, and so Naomi had a grandson. It is from this grandson, Obed, that the Messiah would come.

“Kinsman” in these verses of Ruth, is the Hebrew word  “goel” from the root word meaning “to redeem.” “The “goel” among the Hebrews was the nearest male blood relation alive… If anyone from poverty was unable to redeem his inheritance it was the duty of the kinsman to redeem it” (Bible Study Tools).

The Lord gave Ruth and Naomi someone to redeem their inheritance. And through the birth of Obed, God has given us a Redeemer also. Jesus has redeemed our inheritance, in Him we have eternal life and everlasting hope.

Grief and depression affect many of us during the course of our lives, but in Christ there is help and hope. We only have to turn to Him. And as Sheila Walsh says, we only need to pray to Him, to call to Him out of the “cellar of our souls” and tell Him all that we feel. He will hear us and meet us there. He will bring hope and light in the darkness. If you are going through grief and depression, I pray that you find hope in Him.



Lord, I Need You!

Do you know the desperation of the words, “Lord, I need you?”

A few years ago my dad was suffering with Alzheimer’s and my mom was trying to care for him. I would drive up to their house a couple of times each week to give my mom help or give her a break whenever I could. It was a 70 mile drive one way and I remember feeling exhausted from working full-time as I drove. I was feeling very overwhelmed because of all that needed to be done at home, as well as the expectations of work and others.

It was as I was driving along thinking about all of this, feeling at the end of my rope, that Plumb’s song came on the radio, it is titled, “Lord, I Need You.” It’s words spoke to me. I screamed the words as tears streamed down my face. I told the Lord, I can’t keep doing this. I felt desperate.

  • I was exhausted, needy for peace and rest.
  • I felt alone in being needed and depended on and it felt way too stressful.
  • I felt afraid of what was happening to my dad.
  • I was grieving while he was still living because he was being ripped away little by little as his mind and abilities deteriorated.
  • I felt empty– it seemed like I was constantly running and doing, I didn’t have anymore to give.
  • I felt like my life was totally our of control and I was on a nonstop treadmill as things flew at me 90 miles an hour.
  • I felt incredibly helpless, because I couldn’t fix the situation. I couldn’t make dad better, and give mom her husband back,

It was with each of these feelings and emotions that my heart cried out “LORD I NEED YOU!”

I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. It was an extremely difficult place.

I want to share hope in the midst of difficult times. I know I am not alone in these feelings. Each of us go through these wilderness places of desperation, but there is hope in knowing that the Lord meets us in our neediness.

For the summer months of June through August I will be posting blogs only on Friday’s.

During June and July my blogs will be about needing the Lord in the midst of:

  • Exhaustion
  • Helplessness
  • Sadness or Depression
  • Fear
  • Emptiness
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling as if everything in life is out of control.

The Lord sees where we are and knows our hearts deepest needs. He is there to help us. Our souls can be refreshed in the midst of weariness and desperation as the Lord holds us in His love. It is my prayer that your soul will find refreshment as you read the posts.