Naomi, like Orpah, is first mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of Ruth. She was Orpah and Ruth's mother-in-law before her 2 sons (who were their husbands) died. What killed them was a famine that swept Moab and had also been responsible for Naomi's husband's death prior to this point.
The irony and saddest part about this situation is that Naomi and her husband had originally moved to Moab from Bethlehem years earlier to escape a famine that had swept that land. As such, by the time we meet her in Ruth 1, Naomi is grief-stricken and ready to return back to Bethlehem (especially because she had heard that the famine there was over).
Apart from being struck by the many lessons that can be gleaned from Orpah within this chapter about:
I also have new insights from Naomi about the fear of failure and how to overcome it.
Ruth 1:19 says that when Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem together "all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, 'Is this Naomi?'"
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi [meaning "pleasant"] call me Mara [meaning "bitter"] for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21)
I think that this statement is very telling for the following reasons:
#1 It speaks of Naomi's mindset
Ruth 1:1 says that, when Naomi and her husband (Elimelech) left Bethlehem to go to Moab, they left with their 2 boys. This is what she is referring to when she says that she "went out full". It shows how happy she was at this point of her life. The use of the word "full" also suggests that she didn't feel like she wanted for anything. In other words, she had achieved her idea of a successful life.
Having a husband and children would not just have been Naomi's idea of success, it was a universal belief (within the culture of that time) that a woman's highest achievement was to become a wife and mother- especially to sons. As such, when Naomi said that she had "returned home again empty", she wasn't just referring to the death of her husband and children but what they represented- the death of her:
- Goals and dreams
- Achievements and successes up to this point.
#2 It gives insight about the fear of failure
Fear of failure is not always False Evidence Appearing Real
I have heard it said in the past that fear should be thought of as:
Whilst it is true that fear can be irrational- based on the mere imagining of the worst case scenario/outcome- this is not always the case. Sometimes our fears are based on very real experiences that have actually happened in the past.
This was definitely the case with Naomi. She wanted to change her name to Mara based on the bereavements that she had just suffered, which she saw as evidence that "the Lord [had] testified against [her] and afflicted [her]" (Ruth 1:21). She did this because she had actually become bitter and was afraid to hope and try again, thereby risking failure.
The presence of fear is the absence of God
As I shared in a live via my Facebook page, courage is not the opposite of fear, love is. This is because, according to 1st John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear". 1st John 4:8 then goes on to say that "God is love;" so this means that the presence of fear is the absence of God. We see this with Naomi in that her fear of failure caused a rift between her and God, making her see Him as an enemy that afflicts rather than Love Himself.
Fear of failure is a self-fulfilling prophesy
Hebrews 11:1 says:
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen"
But, as we just discussed, fear of failure steals our ability to hope for better as well as our faith in God.
Yet John 15:5 details Jesus saying:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing"
Since we can't do anything without God, this means that the fear of failure actually acts as a self-fulfilling prophesy. In other words, if your belief that you will fail is greater than what God has said about your purpose (and what you should be doing to bring it about), you will manifest what you fear most- failure. You see, fear of failure doesn't protect you from becoming a failure as much as it can make you one- contrary to what it would have you believe...
so what about you, lovely?
Like Naomi, has the fear of failure been ruling you lately? Does it hold you back from chasing your goals and dreams? You don't have to remain stuck anymore! Press play on the video, below, for 3 tips to help you breakthrough and overcome your fear of failure today:
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