Susan put a note on Facebook expressing her thanks to God for her recovery from cancer. It is marvelous and I rejoice with her. She contacted me telling me that she hesitated to write of her gratitude for recovery as she remembered Bev and her death. As I read it I smiled because the response she anticipated is one that happens so often. There are those who experience loss who turn inward and become bitter! Before I put on my angelic halo, I will confess that I have felt that temptation, too. I see couples my age walking hand in hand and my heart feels such loss. I came home last night ‘round 9 after a good meeting and turned on a Christmas music program. In that moment, I keenly felt the loss of my late wife. That would have been our time to sit close and be ‘in love.’
When that feeling comes, there is a part of me wants to question God, to accuse Him of failing, to tell Him of the unfairness of it all. But, I will not. Becoming bitter, allowing the disappointments to deform my soul, will destroy me. If I let Self take over and live in anger it will ruin my relationships. Bitterness will rob me of being able to appreciate beauty and keep me from serving the Lord, Who is my hope and comfort.
Paul tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness … as well as all types of evil behavior.” (Ephesians 4:31, NLT) Choosing to be bitter is not only unhealthy, it is a sin against God! The antidote for bitter’s poison is to find contentment. If we are looking around, comparing our lives to those of others, complaining about how much they have, the position they enjoy, wondering why not me, envy will rise in us and poison our mind and heart with bitter resentment – towards God and others.
You may be asking, “But, Jerry, what of the pain, the sorrow? Must I just deny it?” No, please don’t even try to do that. Live authentically! We cannot ignore the reality in which we live. Last night, as those Christmas songs played, deep emotions stirred in me and I wept, broken in heart. In our brokenness, there is an opportunity to know the comfort of God, to be reshaped by the work of the Spirit, to become tender. That requires a choice to trust God, even when His ways are hidden. Tears are not sign of weakness, they are an acknowledgment of our humanity. Paul spoke of his own sorrow saying, “I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me.” (Acts 20:19, NLT) David reminds us that God knows our sorrows writing this phrase that is so descriptive – “You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” (Psalm 56:8)
What is your greatest desire, friend?
Is it to know happiness, to live an untroubled life, or to know the Lord with deep and intimate communion?
He holds out His hand, but we must take it. He gives us the promise of His love but it is our choice to know it. Don’t be bitter; becoming hard and cynical. Instead, be broken, pliable in the hands of God. Here is a word from the Word. Meditate in it. Let your soul marinate in the truth found there and He will help you to stand.
“ I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (Psalm 73:21-28, NLT)
There’s beauty in my brokenness,
I’ve got true love instead of pain
There’s freedom though you’ve captured me,
I’ve got joy instead of mourning
You give me joy
Down deep in my soul [x3]
You give me joy
Down deep in my soul [x3]
I never been so free
Caught in your love for me
I never been more secure
Knowing your heart, Lord
Copywrite – Vashawn Mitchell