Isn’t it true that you and I have every reason to be bitter? Are there any among us who have not been exploited, abused, cheated or ignored?
So how do we deal with our bitterness?
Joseph in the Old Testament serves as an example of someone who had just cause for bitterness and yet was able to draw on God’s grace to surmount it:
- As a lad, God gave him a dream that his brothers would serve him. In jealous retaliation, they sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt.
- Ending up as a slave in the house of a military leader, he was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned for an interminable period of time.
- Through a remarkable series of “circumstances” he became the prime minister of Egypt. Years later, his devious brothers find themselves in his presence. With every reason to visit revenge upon them, Joseph forgave them and acknowledged God’s sovereign plan in spite of their cruel treatment:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
And so it is to be with us. We must grasp the fact that it is God’s sovereign intention to use the uneven circumstances of life to conform us into His image:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:28, 29a)
If you are struggling with bitterness, let me make a couple of suggestions: Make a list of their causes. Then go down the list item by item asking God to use each of these painful experiences to make you more Christlike. Then ask Him to help you forgive the persons who were responsible. Often, sharing your struggle with another helps in the healing process.
Understand that it is only as we draw upon God’s grace that we can turn our bitterness into praise. The alternative is bondage to a morose, angry and self-centered life that only serves to poison everyone around us and thwart our ability to influence others for Christ:
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)