Bitterness: What do I do with it?

Have you ever been hurt , attacked, misused, offended, abused or falsely accused by another person?  Many of us have.  Maybe the other person has wronged us greatly, sometimes unknowingly, but many times knowingly and viciously.

What do we do?

We do not forget, do we?  It is always there.  We can train our minds not to think about it or dwell on it.  That is very much like suppressing it, pushing it down.  But does it go away? No.  It keeps surfacing.  Why?  If we had truly forgiven that person, it would not keep surfacing and coming to mind with that “hurt” feeling.

That is bitterness. It has a deep root, and we think we have it all under control and suppressed out of our mind, but then it pops up its ugly head.  In the Hebrews 12, it talks about this root of bitterness: “Looking diligently…lest a root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and by it many be defiled.”  We have to watch for this and recognize it as bitterness against another person.  Bitterness that first defiles the one holding the bitterness, and then defiles many around that person.

How does it defile?  It makes us so we cannot forgive.  It does not allow us to forgive the offense and let it go.  We get to thinking that we are justified in the feelings of hurt.  It keeps us in bondage.  Forgiveness never means that what the other person did or said  was right or acceptable.  But we have no right not to forgive.  We have been forgiven by God of all our sins and trespasses. Forgiveness means that we are willing to give up our right to hold the other person accountable, and we relinquish our right to revenge.  God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  It is our work of faith to offer this offence up to the Lord, give it up, give it away.  It is no longer ours to own.  Then we have no right to revenge, and best of all, it cannot hurt us or keep us in bondage any longer.  The Lord takes it all.

This is surrender.  It is surrendering our will to Him, allowing Him to take care of it. Sometimes we like to feel the victim complex.  That make us feel justified that they wronged us.  Maybe they did, but forgiveness surrenders all of that.

Elizabeth Elliot said, “Anything offered up to God is a Gateway to Joy.”  Can the Lord take the “sacrifice of praise” offered up to Him, and turn it to good for us?  (Hebrews 13:15 says…”By Him (by Christ, by His forgiveness extended to us for our sin, by His grace), therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”

Do I believe the sovereignty of God? Do all things work together for good?  Is it not true that the Lord allows these things in our lives to purify us, to draw us to Himself, and to make us more Christ-like?

Would I go so far to say that the Lord purposely had that person to offend us, so that we could learn what it means to forgive, to offer the offense to God, so He can deal with that person (if it was a purposefully vicious attack)?  Is his ultimate goal for us to be more like Christ?

What did Christ do?

He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Remember the Lord knows and hears ALL.  Go to Him, and release all of it on Him.  Guard your heart against bitterness.  Bitterness blinds us.  It blinds our minds and our thinking.
Revenge holds us captive to internal torture, and keeps us in bondage.
It will affect how we think, how we act, what we do and say, and it will affect our health.
Literally, it will destroy us.

Surrender to the Lord all bitterness. The sovereign God knows all things, and He will deal with that person. Forgiveness releases us from bondage.  If we do not forgive, that person has a vicious hold over us, and we are in bondage. Bitterness keeps us in bondage to the person who has already hurt us.

Many times that person does not even know that we have bitterness toward them, or maybe subconsciously we want revenge (want them to hurt like we hurt), when in reality, it is only hurting us.  If we do not release the bitterness to the Lord, we are saying that we want to deal with that person, and the Lord cannot/will not deal with them “the way they need to be dealt with”.  This is a lack of faith, and in reality rebellion. We must offer that hurt up to the Lord, and He can repay to that person their due better than we ever could.  He will chose His time and place to deal with them.  Our path is to surrender to Him, and be free from bondage.

Remember also…no man lives to himself.  Our bitterness will affect others around us.  Moms …our children will be affected.  It will cloud their minds and hearts to the sweetness and grace of God in their lives.  Sometimes they will take on our bitterness, but if not it will cause anxiety and emotional distress for them.  This is evident in divorce situations that are “nasty”.

Can we ever think that our suffering is for our good and for His glory?  II Corinthians 4:17, says “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.

What is this “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”?  Becoming more Christ-like in our responses to the “light afflictions” in our life.  It is reflection the glory of the Lord to a greater degree through our suffering.  This is worth any hurt that He allows/brings into our life.  He is our “vision”.

The hymn says,

“Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.”

Then later lines say…

“Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”

We sing this hymn, but do we truly mean “whatever befall”?  “Whatever befall” until someone says something that hurts my feelings?  This is not the response of a mature Christian.  Sometimes pride is the underlying sin.  I think I have a right not to be treated that way.  Christ had a right not to be crucified because He was righteous, but He surrendered it to the Father…”Nevertheless, not My will but Thine”.

Hebrews 12:2 says…. “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  We can endure anything if we keep our eyes on “the Joy that is set before us”.  Endure does not mean grudgingly, or “white knuckling” it. Endure is recognizing that He is with us, always present, carrying the “easy yoke” (Matt. 11:28-29) and walking in the fiery furnace and lions den with us always.  Endure has our gaze on the face of our Savior. Endure with faith in his sovereignty, that He has His perfect will working in us, to work His will and reflect His glory.

Elisabeth Elliot put it this way… (referring to Jan 8th 1956):

“When I sat by my short wave radio and learned that my husband was missing, the Lord brought to mind what the prophet Isaiah said …

‘when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee’ “.  This thrust me, forced me, hurried me to God, my only Refuge.”

“Suffering is the irreplaceable medium

through which I learned the indispensable truth that

He is LORD.”  (E. Elliot)

Elisabeth Elliot says…”Think of your pain, trial, troubles as a challis, to be held up and offered up to the Lord, even in the midst of your suffering…stop what you are doing and offer it up as an act of worship……..anything offered up to God  becomes a gateway to joy.”

The results of all this will be:

(1) When you think of the person that hurt you, you will pity them and pray for them (Matt. 5:44), because you have truly forgiven them.  Hopefully you will come to love them.

(2) You will become numb to the “hurt” of the offense, because the bondage is gone.  You released it to the Lord. (Hebr. 13:15)

(3) You can begin to ask the Lord to bring “blessing” into that person’s life (I Peter 3:9b) every time it comes to mind.

(4) Ultimately, you will thank the Lord for the person, the hurt, and the result of that offense, bringing you closer to the Lord in your walk with Him, and the more Christ-like you have become.  You now reflect Him and His glory more than you ever could have without what the LORD brought into your life.  (II Cor. 3:18)

Congratulations, the Lord has just prepared you for your next trial and your next step of faith.  Praise Him.

Faith: Growing Our Faith in the Trials of Life.

Faith: Growing Our Faith in the Trials of Life.

Seeing our challenges through the eyes of the Lord….I Thes. 3:13 “to the end He may establish our hearts unblamable in Holiness before Him….(4:7) God hath…called us…unto Holiness.”

A.W Tozer said…”Whom God will use greatly, He will also hurt deeply.”

 

  • Keep eyes on Jesus; Set your affections on Him.   (11 Cor. 4:16-18; Col. 3:1-4
  •  Fill our mind and heart with the word of God.   (Phil. 4:8-9; II Cor. 7:1)
  • Talk to God; Pray the word of God back to Him.   (Phil. 4:6-7; I Cor. 2:1-5; Col. 3:15-17)
  • Remember His Promises.   (Rom. 8:28 & 29; II Tim. 3:14-17)
  • Know He loves you; Cares for His own. (Ps. 91:1,2,4,11,12; I Peter 5:7)
  • He never leaves us or forsakes us.   (Hebr. 13:5,8)
  • Keep Praising Him.   (Hebr. 13:15; Ps. 22:3; Ephes. 5:19-20)
  • Keep choosing joy. (Hebrews 12:1,2, Psalm 16:8,9; John 15:1-11)
  • Find something to smile about every day.   (I Peter 4:12-14; Prov. 15:13)
  • Keep giving to others during the trial.   (II Cor. 9:7-8; Phil. 2:1-4; Romans 12:9-21)
  • Surround yourself with mature Believers that you can trust. (Psalm 1:1-6; II Cor. 1:4-5; I Cor. 2:1-5)
  • All things are from the hand of God for our Good. (Rom. 8:28-29; Hebr. 12:6,11-15)
  • Remember…we are only passing through.   (II Cor.5:7-10,20; Phil. 3:20; Job 23:10)
  • Always HOPE (joyful, confident anticipation) in Christ, for this life and the life to come. (I Cor. 15:19)
  •  

Meet with God each morning so that:

….rather than viewing God through our challenges, we see our challenges through the eyes of the Lord, whom we have met with, and He is the one that has already prepared us to meet this challenge.

The Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens. John 17

Then… the Holy Spirit challenges and stretches. Phil. 2:13-16

 

What is the abundant Life?   (It has nothing to do with earthly possessions.)

The abundant life (John 10:10) is a spiritual life of contentment (“in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11); Phil. 3:9 says “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering (I Peter 4:13), being made conformable to His death.” (Rom. 8:17; II Cor. 4:10-11

Abundant Life is a full life of understanding what life is all about through the eyes of Christ, and by thinking Christ’s thoughts after Him. Assurance of salvation and assurance in God does not give us a license to sin, but gives us the liberty to please Him….fall in love with Jesus.

Some Thoughts on Grieving….

Sometimes grieving, for whatever it is in our lives, can come to the point that the grieving itself has become a sin.  You say….”That is a strange assessment.”   If we know the Lord as our Savior, and He is the All-Powerful One, the All-Knowing One in Whom we are complete (Colos. 2:10), and if He is sufficient (II Cor. 12:9) to meet all our needs, then is years of grieving with a self focus not a sin?  If our focus is on ourselves, we have not paid attention to the living, we have missed opportunities for the Lord to use us in the lives of others, then this is called “bad grief”.  I am not saying that grieving can “be accomplished” in a few weeks, or even a few months.  (Remember, grieving over a lost spouse, child, or tragedy is not like getting over a bad cold; it doesn’t just go away.)  Some losses/tragedies are deep and life changing so that it takes a great deal of time to even adjust our lives.  The real truth is that our lives are never really the same, ever again.  But there needs to be beginnings in finding a new “normal”.  Prolonged grief reflects a lack of faith and trust in the sovereignty of our Good God.  He has a plan.  Sometimes this side of Heaven we will never understand that plan, but that does not make Him any less a good God.  If we could always understand His will and His way, He would not be God; and, would not be a God worthy of our faith and praise.  He says in Isaiah 55:6-9, that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Thank you Lord, because He see all things and knows all that is going to happen in the future , and He knows us.

So the next step is to get our focus off our selves and onto Him, who is the sustainer of His children.  I am His and He loves me more that I can ever imagine.  He gave His Son’s life for me, while I was yet in my sin.  Christ died the death payment for my sin, offering me salvation, while I was yet not even knowing or caring that He loved me.  Can I trust One like that?  If I give Him my “gaze”, and my heart…as broken and suffering as it is… I can trust Him with it.

If we confess to Him our sin of lack of faith and trust in Him, and offer our broken selves to Him, He can begin to make some sense out of our life.  As we ask Him to show us His plan for our life, and give ourselves to Him for His keeping, it is the delight of His heart to care for and comfort His child.

Someone wrote this reflecting on Isaiah 61:1-3….we would then “accept the forgiveness by the blood  (of Christ),…and ask for the spirit of praise, as for any other gift of God.  So then He would exchange my ashes for Christ’s garland, my mourning for Christ’s oil of joy, my spirit of heaviness for Christ’s garment of praise”.

That is a wonderful passage.  The doing of it is by the grace of God only, as with all that the believer does.  We get to thinking when we are grieving that we need to pull ourselves out of this pit of despondency.  But as with every other “care” in our life, the Lord wants to gently and carefully guide us in this, and then out of this to the other side as He walks with us.  Remember He weeps with us as He did with Lazarus’s sisters at the death of their brother (John 11:1-44).

Praise can come for His Goodness (Jere. 33:13-14) even when all else is not making sense.  Praise that the Lord allowed us the privilege of having this one for so long a time; praise for the good of sharing a life with them; praise for the way our life was blessed through that person.  Seek to praise for the good things.  Then as He gives grace, accept his “garland” for the ashes.  That may mean that we allow Him to take a life that looks like it is ashes, plans that are in ashes, dreams that will never be (ashes), and commit them to His plan and will, for Him to give us a new life in Him.

Christ has an oil…a healing balm, that can begin to give joy where there was only grieving.  He will be the Master Healer in our lives, if we let Him.  As we accept His grace for all this, He will lift the heaviness in our lives.  His grace is sufficient (II Cor. 12:9) for the healing process, if we yield all of this to Him.

Sometimes those who are grieving think that if they “just stop grieving”, and go on with life, it means that they have forgotten the loved one, or did not really love them.  We do not want to forget them or want others to forget them. It can feel like a betrayal to this loved one.  This can be very profound in the life of the survivor.  Yes, we do not want to forget them, but it does not honor them to go on not living a productive life.  The lost loved one would want us to be comforted (Matt. 5:4), and so we must honor them by finding our Way, coping in the grace and healing of Christ.  Surrender the ashes, the mourning, and the heaviness to the One who can heal, and let us be comforted.  Christ must fill that void.  Anything else that we try to “use” to fill that void will never satisfy.

That loved one will always hold a special place in our hearts, because no one could ever fill that place.  But it is OK to go on.  At some point we must choose life, and go on.  If we could allow Christ to take that special place in our hearts and fill it with peace from Himself, we can go on.  Peace with a past loss, tragedy or care, surrendered to Christ to make of it some sense, is the only way to go on to a life used by Him. He weeps with us, and walks with us….as we Choose Him.

May He be gracious to all of us who suffer loss, and show His presence real to us. May He give to us the balm of healing in our lives (which is really Himself), that we may glorify Him.

God Bless you in your journey to a surrendered life to Him.

Suffering….can it be our finest hour?

Suffering will come to all the saints.  Consider the verses in Philippians 3:8-10…

Paul said that he would gladly suffer the loss of all things to win Christ.  This is in no way trying to earn acceptance with Christ.  Paul is saying that he would gladly give all he had, all the accomplishments, and all that he was as a Hebrew (verse 5) to be unencumbered to know Christ (verse 10).  He makes it clear that he stands in the righteousness of Christ by faith (verse 9).  But verse 10 is telling us that those of us who know Him (Christ), and the power of His resurrection, will suffer.   It says …”the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death”.  We will be identified with Him in His sufferings. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, He was completely surrendered to His Father at all times.  He was doing the Father’s will, and did that with no thought to His own will, or the pain He would go through. In this …was His strength, courage, peace…and JOY.  In Hebrews 12:1-2, it tells us…”looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   I Peter 5:10 says…”But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect (mature), establish (stabilizing grace), strengthen (strengthening grace), and settle you (settling grace).”  Because He is the God of all grace….His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians  12:9)…so He is sufficient.  It is Him who fills…the scriptures say…. “He satiates the soul”….of the weary and suffering soul with His Goodness (Jere.31:13b,14,25).

For those of you who are suffering, may He satiate your soul with His Goodness…He is always Good.  He cannot be anything apart from Good.  (The sovereignty of God does not always “feel” good, but He is always Good.)  Rest in Him.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Suffering will come as we seek to identify with Christ.
  • Amy Carmichael said…referring to suffering and not knowing the answer as to why….”We are trusted by God with the unexplained.”  Amy suffered much the last 20 years of her life.
  • Seek the Lord now spiritually, so as to be able to have an attitude of gratitude when the time comes to suffer for Him.  It will take time and discipline now…. to develop a life of praise and thanksgiving to Him in all things.
  • When suffering comes, we will have to dig deeper….for deeper joy in Him.  Remember…gold doesn’t lay on top of the ground; diamonds form from extreme pressure; a pearl starts as a grain of sand irritating…!!!!
  • The Lord’s perspective is different from ours.  He will not withhold from His child anything that will bring that child into greater sweet fellowship with Him…even if it causes pain at times in the life of the child He loves deeply.
  • As we suffer, the pain we experience here becomes part of the process of “letting loose” of the things of this life…”the things of earth become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
  • As we respond to others stories of grief, suffering, pain, or loss, be careful to be sensitive to their need at that time.  Let them talk, listen carefully…but do not make it “your story” by telling about your time of suffering.  Remember “it is not about you…”  It is their time to grieve, weep, and need support.  They need a friend to listen and support them.
  • Just think ….this season of suffering may be your finest hour.