Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Is the “dark side” of the moon truly as dark as we think it is?

From Earth, we only see one side of our companion satellite. The moon is “tidally locked” with our planet, with the result that it always presents the same face to us.

Because we can’t see the side of the moon facing away from the Earth, we sometimes assume that it’s in perpetual darkness.

But this isn’t so. The “dark side” of the moon (which should more accurately be called the “far side”) gets just as much sunlight as the face we see. All sides of the moon receive the sun’s light equally in turn.

From the sun’s perspective, the moon doesn’t have a dark side at all.

It’s our perspective that throws us off and leads us to the wrong conclusion.

We can easily fall prey to misconceptions about our own lives, too. When we don’t have the right perspective, we can assume that things are darker than they really are.

Naomi in the Old Testament Book of Ruth certainly made this mistake.

Naomi had gone through some extremely difficult times. She and her family had left their famine-ravaged homeland to settle in a neighbouring country. Eventually, her husband died, and some years later both her sons passed away as well. She was now a poor widow in a foreign land.

It looked like Naomi had been dealt a very bad hand in life. In fact, she said so herself in no uncertain terms when she returned to her hometown.

When she entered Bethlehem, the townspeople were astonished to see her. They wondered if it was really the same Naomi they’d known so many years ago. But she told them:

“Don’t call me Naomi [which means ‘pleasant’]. Instead, call me Mara [which means ‘bitter’], for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-1)

But wait a minute. Was Naomi’s life really completely empty? Was there no one who had travelled with her on the journey?

There’s more to this story than Naomi is letting on. There’s another character we need to add in:

Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth.

When Naomi’s son (Ruth’s husband) had died back in the land of Moab, Ruth had the option of leaving Naomi and trying to find another husband among her own people, the Moabites.

But she refused to do so. So great was Ruth’s love for Naomi, and so profound was her regard for Naomi’s God, that she said:

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth swearing her allegiance to Naomi. Painting by Jan Victors, 1653
Image courtesy of Picryl and Sotheby’s, Public Domain

With these stirring words, Ruth committed herself to stay with Naomi and to care for her wherever she went. Naomi hadn’t returned to Bethlehem empty after all, but full of Ruth’s companionship, loyalty and love.

Looks like things weren’t actually as dark as Naomi had implied.

Naomi had let her bitterness cloud her perspective, to the point where she couldn’t see the blessings God had given her in the form of her hardworking, loyal, and loving daughter-in-law.

Not only that, but God was about to provide a husband for Ruth, a lineage for Naomi, and security and status for them both for the rest of their lives.

For a long time, all Naomi could see was the darkness in her life. She couldn’t see the light that had been there all along, nor the even brighter light that was just around the corner.

So it is with us, I think. We may have dark times, when it seems God isn’t present. We may experience suffering, injustice, and tragedies.

But His light never stops shining on us. Even when our life seems dark, God is still there with us, bestowing blessings upon us and working circumstances together for our eventual good.

Like the moon, our lives as believers are never truly in darkness.

We just need the right perspective to see it!

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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