He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart… Mark 3:5
Sometimes our anger is justified. Anger is a necessary emotion. It tells us when something is wrong. It is a warning to look for a problem. Bitterness is never justified. Bitterness often is what happens when we see a problem and instead of addressing it head on we build a fortress around it and protect ourselves from the issue that sparked the anger. The problem is that when we create that strong fortress, we also block out any possibility of healing, forgiveness or love. We sit alone in our fort, the bitterness grows, we add weapons to the walls, and fire at anyone who attempts to enter.
This calls to my mind an excerpt from a book that I read years ago. I laughed and cried when I read it because it hit so close to home.
God is visiting her soul with a terrible rot called madness. First, she is only mad at her husband. Years pass and she is mad at he family. As time goes on she is mad at the Church. Then she is mad at the mailman and mad at the waitress. Practicing, always practicing, perfecting her madness. Mad, all the time mad. Madness. (Debi Pearl pg. 63)
So what do we do to keep from going mad?
actions for good
BE LOYAL Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; v.3
Be good to those you encounter your friends, your family and the people you meet only for a moment.
BE TRUSTING Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. v.5
We cannot rely on our own thoughts to fix our own thoughts. We need a clear perspective. Seek God’s perspective he has everyone’s best interest at heart.
GIVE HONOR Honor the Lord with your substance…v.9
Honor begins in the heart. When we hold God in high esteem, we will begin to hold His creation in the same regard. We will be grateful for what he has shared with us. And gratitude is always a healer of the spirit.
SEEK WISDOM My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence,…v. 21
We must be careful not to act on our emotion because they are not always in line with the truth. Look to scriptures for guidance and take care to remember what is loving.
FEAR NOT …for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. v. 26
When we protect our own hearts, it is often out of fear. We build bitterness around our hearts creating walls that cannot be penetrated. When we understand God as the creator and protector of that which he loves we can walk more securely and rest more easily.
BE GOOD Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. v. 27
It comes up over and over, when trying to find healing for yourself, do something for others.
When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. (C. S. Lewis pg. 188)
Pearl, Debi. Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious. No Greater Joy Ministries, 2014.
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. HarperCollins, 2001.
All Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version
3 thoughts on “A moment of bitterness”
Thanks, I really needed this right now. Beautiful job Alana!
The power/the ‘punch’ in this Moment of Bitterness is in your prescription of how to deal with bitterness/madness. These are most helpful, Alana. For me, the 3rd listed: ‘give honor,’ most struck home. Yes, God is the first One to honor….but I also read that my antidote to madness is to honor the person at whom I am mad!! That’s difficult, and takes a while…but it’s spot-on. I can think of many times in my marriage, or in serving a congregation, that I would get mad at spouse, children, parishioner [and if not dealt with, turn into bitterness]. A necessary act: honor the one at whom I am mad. Honor: their gracefulness, their being in God’s image, their dignity, their worth.
Thank you for the 7 ‘pro-verbs’, but especially “honor.”
Thanks for sharing! I have found that it is challenging to feel bitterness toward the people I encounter if I am looking at them as belonging to God. Suddenly, for me that perspective softens my heart. When I can approach the person who sparked my anger with a softness of heart, it is amazing how differently a gentle confrontation might go. It might not, and that is ok too. Because knowing I acted honorably is perhaps the best I can do. ” Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with me.”