Bitterness, Meaningless, or Healing?
“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” Heb 12:15-16
Others have said that bitterness is like drinking poison and wishing the other person would die. There is truth in that.
Experience has shown me that there is often a correlation between bitterness and godlessness. I have noticed many times that when one gives up on God and becomes dedicated to the world, he also becomes bitter toward believers and God. He may consider himself “enlightened,” having learned that God is a sham and the church has held him down and enslaved to a hypocritical and evil religious system. Every encounter with those among whom he formerly walked is laced with his sarcastic rebuke and acerbic rhetoric. He now hates what he perceives what he once was, and he makes no apology in letting everyone else know about it. He now knows the true meaning of care and love, you see. Yet how tragic that he cannot understand that the root of bitterness has clouded his judgment. He cannot see that the very attitude he despises has become embedded in his own personality. And he now has, for his authority, nothing greater than himself. And with this authority he proudly pronounces all who hold to that outdated, superstitious view of religion to be the bane of all society. Bitterness, you see, perverts our view of all that is good and right, and forces our thinking into a futile, darkened world where the only thing left to grasp is meaninglessness.
Sadly, “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (Prov 29:1).
Others may not completely give up on God and His people, but may still harbor resentment and bitterness in their hearts. This, in turn, affects all of their relationships. They won’t allow themselves to enjoy life, to be happy, to find the real joy of the Lord. There are days we may feel a connection to Job’s words: “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished” (Job 17:1). “When the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Prov 15:13b). Life is broken and needs a renewal.
“Bring Christ your broken life, so marred by sin. He will create anew, make whole again.”
I understand disappointed. I understand angry. I understand depressed. I understand sinful. I understand hateful. I have experienced these and more. What I don’t understand is allowing these to govern our future. Being disappointed or mistreated in the past is not an excuse to show ill will and hateful feelings toward others now. Being angry about your personal past is not an excuse to lash out in anger at those who are in your present and future. “But you just don’t understand. You wouldn’t say this if…” Stop. Yes, I do. More than I wish to say. In fact, many, if not most, understand this. Choices have to be made. Decisions need to reflect that we will seek out what is honorable and right. How we proceed from here, while influenced by our past, can demonstrate wisdom in overcoming our past.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction” (Phil 4:13-14).
I couldn’t have done it without God. I cannot continue to do it without God. No one can overcome permanently without God.
No, it’s not a matter of just saying, “Get over it.” Very little is so simple. I’m not a psychologist or counselor, but I know that the human psyche is quite complicated (and here I’m not even discussing true physical and mental issues that need professional attention). I am saying that getting “over it” is possible if we will allow the Lord into our hearts and minds. “Trust in the Lord with all your heartAnd do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him,And He will make your paths straight.Do not be wise in your own eyes;Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your bodyAnd refreshment to your bones.” (Prov 3:5-8)“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim 4:18)