Hard circumstances almost always go hand-in-hand with the temptation to become bitter. Grief either tenderizes us or hardens us and the truth is, sometimes it does both. How do we get bitter? We don’t dwell in the comfort God has provided, instead we dwell on the disappointments of what we thought life should give us. Sometimes when I see little boys running around with their happy moms, bitterness tempts me, “Of course they are happy, I would be too if my son were better.” Embarrassed by my own ugliness I stuff it down and smile; my guess is that you’ve fought it too, haven’t you?
Bitter at other parents for cheering their super-achieving kids at the finish line, first-place, when your son struggles to finish. Or maybe hasn’t even started the race and you swallow the longing for just.one.achievement. I have nothing to cheer about, each day is a struggle. Why can’t my kid have it easier? Why do some families have it so “perfect”? Bitter at your church family as you leave the service, again, to attend to your child’s needs when all you wanted was to be fed with the Word. Why can they sit there all pretty while I have to go out and deal with this again? Why me? They have no idea what I have to deal with. Bitter at your spouse as you seem to be on opposite sides instead of caring for one another. Can’t he see I’m stretched thin and why doesn’t he care and help out more? Why do I always have to be the one dealing with this? She hardly knows I exist and only focuses on the kids, it’s like I’m invisible except for when I do something wrong. Bitter at yourself for not being able to meet everyone’s needs, for never feeling like enough for anyone. I wish this job was left to someone else more capable, I totally messed up. I wish I were happier, thinner, smarter, more patient… Bitterness is a parasite that eats at your insides, robs your joy, and sucks you lifeless. Like big ships deserted and left to sink, bitterness leaves you groaning and creaking with no place to go but down. It makes you feel like chalk is stuffed into your mouth and makes each day difficult to swallow. I’ve been there and a step further. Bitter towards God. I thought I’d worked through grief and successfully defeated the temptation to bitterness. But when I found myself sitting in church with a cynical heart, thinking the Word was not powerful enough to deal with the mountains in life, I knew sin was alive, well and battling hard.
This Battle of Grief is never won and checked off the spiritual to-do list. It is a battle that will last til arriving in glory where there will be no more soul-rending grief. It’s a battle that Satan will continue to use to discourage you, to make you mistrust God and His purposes, to ensnare you in bitterness til you are stripped of all joy, power and comfort in your Christian walk and witness. If you’ve seen any of these evidences of bitterness in your heart, repent and turn with me to the Comforter. God is familiar with bitter sinners. He knows how to take our hard cynical hearts and tenderize them perfectly with His Word and Spirit. How? Usually not by changing our circumstances. He reaches needy believers with hard circumstances and pours in Himself. Not just a band-aid covering but soul-saturating and soul-sustaining comfort. Supernatural comfort! Isaiah confirmed over and over to a captive and bitter people that God desired to comfort them, the problem was they didn’t want him! Job who was tempted to bitterness at the world and God confirmed the only comfort for his soul was the Redeemer. Paul who went through all sorts of hard times was thankful for the circumstances because they allowed Him to experience the comfort of God. Read the Psalms, can you see the heart of God longing to comfort you through your hard circumstances? The same God who wanted the nation of Israel, David and Paul to experience his comfort desires to comfort you.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Don’t forget to vote for Not Alone in the About.com Readers Choice Awards. You can vote every day until the contest ends March 19th.