“Naomi is on that path. She’s not doing well. Life has been hard. Ten years ago she was widowed; a few years later she lost both her married sons before either had fathered a child; now she has returned home with a nice young woman, a daughter-in-law from the despised country of Moab.
“Naomi is no longer young, her money is gone, her property is sold, she can’t manage to shake off feelings of depression, and she is mad at God, convinced that she has been a victim of His ruthless sovereignty. No one wants her in their small group.
“Assume she attends the church your pastor. What will you say in next Sunday’s sermon that you honestly believe she might hear? What message could you preach that the Spirit might use to draw her along on the path toward God? Do you believe that everything helps a person to God, including a suicidal son, a devastating divorce, a secret moral failure, an unfulfilling job? If so, how do you preach what you believe?
“Or assume you’re a Christian counselor. Ruth has brought Naomi to your office, then waits outside to let you do whatever you do with depressed clients. What would you say to this slumped-over old lady?
“Maybe a better first question is, what would you feel as you listen to Naomi? She tells her story in a flat monotone, until at one point she looks up at you and with fire in her eyes says, ‘I’m alone. My life is not worth living. I’m utterly miserable, and I have nothing to look forward to. Shaddai could have done some-thing. He did nothing.
“It was at a point like this that Ted Turner dismissed God. It’s been at points like this that countless others have more quietly dismissed God and learned to live like functional atheists or pragmatic deists. ‘There is no God I can depend on. The God who exists has left me to make it on my own. He offers no real help.’ Churches are filled with worshippers who have reached that conclusion. Their worship is not from the heart.”
Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, pp. 79-80