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BACKGROUND: This is the first of four sessions in which we will be looking at how we cope with struggles. We will focus on four characters from the Bible who faced and reacted to difficult situations, including illness, the deaths of close family members, hunger, aggression, bullying and even hatred. Because Naomi is a character in the larger story of Ruth, she is often overlooked. How often is that the case with those who are in need?

These sessions may evoke painful memories or stir difficult situations and feelings. It is vital that those leading are able to  offer appropriate pastoral care. It would be advisable to undertake a risk assessment of what to do if any difficult emotions are stirred.



Start by inviting the group to share what they have been doing over the past week. Encourage them to be open about anything that might be worrying them. It doesn’t have to be personal; it could be about events at school, in the country or the wider world.



You will need: a map of the world

Before the session, find out some facts about the following groups of people who migrated from their home countries: the Huguenots (French Protestants from the 16th and 17th Centuries); the Vietnamese ‘boat people’; present-day Libyan and Syrian refugees.

Divide the young people into small groups and give each group one of the migrations to learn about. Ask them to find out the cause of the migration and to mark how far they went on the map. Bring the groups together and ask them to feed back what they have learnt.

Point out that it is often desperation that drives people to make these long and difficult journeys. It might be hard for us to imagine a life in which we don’t know where our next meal will come from. Explain that in this session we will be looking at someone who had to migrate twice in order to find food.



Use the following monologue to introduce the Bible passage:

“Well, I’m here because the doctor suggested that I need to talk to someone. Apparently, some people I used to know think I need help. Yes, I have been moping around a bit. What? Oh, yes, that is true. I have been thinking of changing my name. I mean what’s the point of having a name that means ‘pleasant’ when my life isn’t at all pleasant. That’s why I think ‘bitter’ suits me better.

“First of all my husband dies, then my two sons. How am I going to survive? I mean, what is the point? If the Almighty is making my life so bitter, then why not be bitter? Life just isn’t fair. None of it is my fault. It’s all God’s doing, you know. I bet you don’t have an antidepressant to fix that. I mean, if God and the whole world is against you, what’s the point? I suppose the news that this year’s barley harvest in Bethlehem looks good is a positive. I might go back there. But there’s no point in my daughters-in-law coming with me. They should steer well clear of bitter old me. My whole life is a disaster.”

After the monologue, have someone read out Ruth 1. Briefly summarise the events so the group members understand what caused Naomi to feel so bad:

  • Naomi moves with her family to look for food and a better life (just like the migrations in ‘Intro activity’)
  • Things are initially good, and her sons marry
  • But then Naomi’s husband and sons die
  • There is no support from the government at this time; the men supported the family
  • Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem but tells her daughters-in-law to stay in their own land and find new husbands so they can have their own families
  • Ruth stays with Naomi




Encourage discussion around the passage using the following questions:

  • Which words would you use to describe Naomi’s situation?
  • What impact do you think Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi had on her?
  • What was the significance of Naomi’s name change? Do you ever put labels on yourself? What is the impact of this?
  • Have you ever felt like Naomi did?
  • Do you think Naomi should have blamed God? Why? Why not?
  • If we are feeling bad about ourselves, who do we blame? Does blaming someone else help the situation?
  • Is the solution to do something to fix the situation ourselves, like the people in ‘Intro activity’ did?



You will need: paper, pens and art materials

Give each person a piece of paper and access to the art materials. Explain that they are going to draw a map that illustrates a journey from one place to another. However, instead of drawing real locations they will add places to illustrate the difficulties they face in everyday life. These places should be located in the area of the map they are leaving.

In the place they are heading to they should add places to illustrate how they would deal with or face the issues they have already drawn. Examples could be places like ‘Prayer Town’ or ‘Youth Leader Park’. They should illustrate and make the maps look authentic. You could even tea-dye the paper before they create their maps to give them an aged feel.

These maps can be kept in their Bibles or another safe place when the young people feel as if everything is against them.




You will need: paper; pens

Hand a piece of paper to everyone in the group. They should fold it in half down the centre, writing ‘Naomi’ on one side and ‘Ruth’ on the other.

Ask the group who they currently feel more like – are they closer to Naomi, feeling low and wishing they weren’t in their current situation, or do they feel more like Ruth, sticking close

to someone as they journey through the dark? Say that there is nothing wrong with feeling like Naomi, and that there are also Ruths in life who are ready to stand with us.

This story shows us that there is hope, even in the darkest situations, and that we can help and walk with others. Close with this simple prayer:


“Dear Lord,

Send light when we can’t see a way forward.

And help us guide others when they can’t see their path.


Supporting documents

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