Is there something someone has done to you or some circumstance that has happened where you felt wronged and you feel you can’t do anything about it? Do you constantly think about it? Do you go to bed ruminating about it, get up with it, and carry it with you all day long?
Do you baby it, nurse it, and try to figure out why someone would do that to you? Are you mad at God because of something that happened? Maybe it was an illness, death in the family, or freak accident?
How we react to these situations reminds me of a pot of water. It starts out at regular room temperature. When heat is added, tiny bubbles of discontent appear. If more heat is added eventually it becomes a rolling boil.
Falling Into Bitterness
This is the point at which the water is boiling vigorously or turbulently and cannot be disrupted or stopped even by stirring. It’s going to boil as long as that measure of heat is applied. Eventually, it will boil the water dry. If someone doesn’t turn the heat off, it will damage the pan. Taken to the limit, it will set everything on fire.
When we add fuel to our negative feelings, it only frustrates us. We have officially passed anger and have fallen into bitterness. Harbor that feeling long enough and it will become a root of bitterness which can morph into a stronghold.
This issue is a step beyond frustration or even anger. We feel stuck because we can’t convince the person who wronged us that they are wrong. We don’t want to admit we did anything wrong, so we are stuck in bitterness.
What Is Bitterness?
When the heat of any circumstance or situation comes against us and we refuse to turn it down, we will find ourselves in a rolling boil. The more fuel we add to the fire, our lives become vigorously and turbulently disrupted. The more we think about the issue, the angrier we become. We can’t express our anger because don’t want anyone to know we’re angry. We keep it inside.
What is bitterness anyway? It’s a word we all know, but one that is very hard to define. It stems from anger and we know what anger is. I’ve been angry many times and likely you have as well. Anger never helps in any situation, so I try to let the anger go before it takes over my life.
In the past, I was very bitter at God for not fixing my super, morbid obesity. I never voiced it when I was living in the midst of it because I didn’t want people to think that God was powerless to help me. Still, I wondered if He is all-powerful why He wasn’t fixing me?
For those of us who are sugar or food addicts, overeaters, bingers, or bulimics the reason is clear. God wants to set us free from bitterness, but we first have to be willing to surrender to Him and allow Him to change our habits. We don’t like that, though, because that means we have to do the work ourselves. We’ve tried everything and nothing has fixed us so why will surrendering to God help?
Bitterness Keeps Us From God’s Best
I was right there. I wanted God to fix me. I wanted the easy way out of my dilemma. I was frustrated with God because it seemed everyone around me could eat sugar and stop with a little, but I couldn’t. One cookie was too many and 10,000 were not enough.I was a bitter woman. Bitterness ate away at me.
When we hold onto bitterness and refuse to trust God, we open the door for bitterness to rule our hearts. We don’t want reconciliation. We want to be vindicated. We want our circumstances to change. Instead of recognizing our part in the situation, we keep blaming God or some other person we feel is the cause of our angst.
All along, God is telling us He wants the best for us. Bitterness will keep us from experiencing all the great things God has for us. Every time we think about the situation, our bitterness gets stronger and stronger. When we can’t stop thinking about how angry we are, our desire for living our best lives now gets weaker and weaker.
If we don’t address this issue it will totally overtake us. “Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives” (Hebrews 12:15 TLB).
God’s Word uses very strong language regarding bitterness. Ephesians 4:31 AMP, says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor, perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding, and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice, all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence.”
Perpetual animosity defines the difference between anger and bitterness. We can be momentarily angry and let it go. However, if we continue to rehash what made us angry that perpetual animosity will make us bitter.
Bitterness can ruin our physical bodies, take over all our thoughts, wreak havoc with our emotions, affect every decision we make, and blind us to how God is leading us. To survive we have hand to God whatever made us bitter. God wants the best for us, but He cannot help us move forward when we are holding on to bitterness.
Forgiveness Is Key
Right after Paul tells us to get rid of bitterness, he tells us. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
The main key to getting rid of bitterness is forgiveness. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 NLT, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Bitterness likes to be in control so it has a hard time letting go. When those menacing thoughts come back we take them captive as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says and forgive again. We continue doing that until the bitterness is gone and we no longer linger over those thoughts of wrongs done to us. We have a choice. We can choose to stay bitter or we can let God make us better.
Created for More
There is bitterness here on this earth because we are weak humans, but we were created for more! We were created for joy. We were created on purpose for a purpose. There is more in store for us than we can imagine.
Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
In the crazy place of bitterness, we forget how very much God loves us and wants the best for us. He’s rooting for us. Isn’t time we started rooting for ourselves instead of living captive in a sea of bitterness?
For more on this subject, listen to Sweet Grace for Your Journey, podcast episode 168: From Bitter to Better. Go here: https://TeresaShieldsParker.com/podcast/.