There was once a boy named Joshua.
Throughout his childhood he dealt with the consequences of divorce. His dad had left him when he was three, leaving his mom to raise both him and his brother while being a full-time teacher.
When he was eight, Joshua’s dad came back into the picture, and the two met for the first time. He now began to live in two separate houses, traveling back and forth multiple times a week.
At thirteen, Joshua really began to understand the true consequences of his parents’ divorce, causing him to dwell on it more and more.
At first, his understanding resulted in a longing to be part of a normal family. Then it turned into brooding over how it was his dad’s fault that their family was dysfunctional. And finally, it transformed into a smoldering anger at his father for having done this to him.
Bitterness slowly ate away at all the good things inside him, leaving only anger, impatience, and distrust.
This boy was me.
Three Steps for Dealing with Bitterness
As you can see, bitterness had trapped me in twisting thorns, and I didn’t even realize it.
Maybe you face a similar situation to mine. Maybe you’re just realizing that you have briars of bitterness wrapped around your heart. Maybe you think you’ll be stuck with these brambles forever.
The good news is that Jesus has provided a way for us to rid bitterness from our lives! Here’s how:
1. Trust in God
Romans 8:28 (ESV) says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
We tend to believe that we can do a better job than God can at orchestrating our lives. That we know better than He does what’s best for us. But we also seem to forget that God is all-knowing and is intent on shaping our lives for our good!We must remember that we can trust God will use the harm caused by others for our good. We must also trust that God will enact justice better than we ever could. Click To Tweet
We must remember that we can trust God will use the harm caused by others for our good. Additionally, we must also trust that God will enact justice better than we ever could.
2. Forgive Your Offender
Colossians 3:13 (ESV) says “[Bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, [forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”The hard thing about forgiveness is that our flesh does not want us to forgive. Instead, it wants to hold onto our grudges seemingly for forever. But Christ calls us to forgive because He forgave us first. Click To Tweet
The hard thing about forgiveness is that our flesh does not want us to forgive. Instead, it wants to hold onto our grudges seemingly for forever. But Christ calls us to forgive because He forgave us first.
But what does it even mean to forgive someone? It means to not continue blaming the person who harmed you, to no longer want to harm them back, and to no longer hold resentment against them. As John Piper puts it, “The real sign of forgiveness is that you don’t seek to punish the other — you seek the good of the other.”
3. Repent of Sin
2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV) says “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Looking back, I can see the ugly sin that my bitterness caused.
· Lacking patience in dealing with family members.
· Releasing bursts of anger over trivial issues.
· Viewing myself as being better than others.
· Having a continually ungrateful attitude.
Jesus calls us to repent of our sins towards God and the people we have sinned against. Through doing this, we will assuredly gain God’s forgiveness and begin the process of healing the wounds of those we have sinned against. On top of this, the Bible says that repenting of our sins leads to salvation without regret, and what could be better than that!
An End to The Brokenness
You still might struggle with the consequences of whatever that person did to you, just like how my family didn’t suddenly become whole again because I forsook my bitterness towards my father. This is because we live in a broken world with broken people.
But we should not focus on the consequences of others’ sins. Rather we should focus on the hope we have through Christ for our future.
Eventually, we will be with Jesus for eternity and will not have to experience any suffering caused by others, the world, or even ourselves! By keeping an eternal focus instead of a momentary one, we can rejoice knowing that what awaits us in heaven will be worth what we go through now a thousand times over!
That’s really good, Joshua, thank your writing this!
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Amen, Joshua. I struggled with anger and bitterness for most of my life, and so this article really resonated with me. You’re absolutely right on the steps to take. Thank you for sharing this!
I’m thankful that my post provided a solution that you too found helpful for bitterness!
Josh, what a good, succinct, applicable article. No roots of bitterness; dig them out right away and plant a garden of faith, truth, and love instead. 🙂 I’ll keep your article in mind to share with my clients in the future.