What makes you bitter?
I usually find my bitterness when I’m angry. And I’m not talking a righteous anger, either. I’m talking temper. When I can’t control the actions or thoughts of other people, or the lack of health I find in my body, I try to fix it instead of seeking God’s rest in his sovereignty.
The magical formula for bitterness is temper mixed with a loss of control. When you cannot fix a very real problem and you struggle to find a way to let go of the anger and frustration is causes you. Hope is fleeting and new habits form in the shape of complaining and gossiping or revenge.
In my own power, I am frustrated. When the doctors cannot find an answer for my ailments or I have to suffer for months before I can find the answer, I get angry. Wishing for a resolution or a healing. As I wait, I become more and more bitter thinking of how I have been wronged by a God who is supposed to care for me. I pull farther and farther from faith.
The very word “resolution” reminds me of storyline. In every story (or at least every good story) there is a clear path the main character takes. There is an exposition, rising action, climax,
falling action, and resolution, or denouement. In scripture, every individual story seems to follow in this dramatic structure, with a few exceptions for poetry. The overarching story of scripture also follows this structure, as we see the creation of the world, initial conflict in the fall, rising action with each new human who fails to be perfect, climax at Christ’s resurrection, falling action in the creation of the church and our own stories, and resolution in the second coming of Christ.
Did you catch that? You are woven into God’s story, too. The big one, the one that lives for all eternity. It’s hard to believe on hard days, sister. I get it.
Would you allow yourself to believe that you have your own story to proclaim God’s goodness? Not of His ability to give what you want, but to sustain you through his love. As God, he has power to write every story and follow the intersections we see every day. If you can place yourself in the midst of this beautiful story of redemption, can you see your own rising conflict or climax as you grow and learn to seek God alone. Your story is necessary for the salvation of your heavenly family.
Power lies in all of us as a gift from God, but his heart breaks when he sees us conquering and oppressing others with a wrath fueled by bitterness. It is part of our broken story and our Earthly conflict. Are you going down a path you hate, feeling like you cannot change it? Good news, it’s not up to you to change, but to surrender. God will empty you of your bitterness so he can fill you with compassion, true love, and mercy.
I wish I could say my first reaction is faith, but it’s more likely to be bitterness. When I feel too busy to meet with God in scripture or prayer because my children got up early or I slept past my alarm (time management is a major character flaw of mine) I suffer and hurt others I love most. When I am hurt by others and I do not want to face the thought of forgiveness I need to remember his forgiveness toward me. I feel a pull to seek God, but I often do not feel holy enough to enter his perfection. Beloved child, you and I are much like David who wrote of his overwhelming emotions in the book of Psalm. God is not shaming you for feeling a certain way (in fact, that shame comes from Satan’s lies), and God knows how he created you. In his love and wisdom, his scriptures have been put in our lives to direct us in a world screaming for your attention.
8 My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my plans than your plans.
1 Answer me when I call to you,
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies? Interlude
3 You can be sure of this:
The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
The Lord will answer when I call to him.
4 Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude
5 Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
and trust the Lord.
6 Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
Let your face smile on us, Lord.
7 You have given me greater joy
than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.