Bitterness is a poison we drink hoping that some one else will die.
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Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
I can't remember where I heard it, but some one once said, "Bitterness is a poison we drink hoping that some one else will die." How true a statement. Bitterness doesn't help us with our hurt, it only poisons us in our pain. And as Hebrews says, bitterness can spread and defile others around us.
Recently I witnessed bitterness at level that I haven't seen in the past. The context will remain private, but the general situation I can share.
Two people with an estranged relationship due to the actions of one of them had cause to meet in an official legal setting. One person, clearly broken because of the actions of the other, was as bitter a person as I have seen.
I understand the person's pain. They were the innocent party, so to speak. But the level of bitterness in them was malignant. It had spread to others who came to the meeting with them. Frankly I don't think bitterness is a strong enough word to describe what their emotions exuded.
Cold, hard hatred was more like it. The bitter root had surely grown up and brought with it defilement.
They had reason for their pain. As I said, they were the innocent party. But the palpable hatred they exuded toward the one who had caused the injury and to everyone else who didn't see things their way, was cancerous...not to others, but to themselves.
My heart ached for them. It ached for any number of obvious reasons, but also because the events that caused them pain were in the main, not new.
Months and months had passed, actually more than months, but I don't want to overstate the time issue since lessor offenses in more recent days have torn the scabs off the past.
But the level of pain and bitterness expressed in the meeting would have been understandable if the painful events had occurred recently. They had not.
Christians to the core and claiming the moral high ground, they have fallen prey to a poisonous bitterness; a kind of bitterness that if not resolved will leave them crippled emotionally for the rest of their lives. My heart ached for them.
Bitterness is a poison we drink hoping that some one else will die. What a mistake.
Years ago I spoke with my Mother about some of the things my father did during their estrangement and eventual divorce. Years and years after that estrangement Dad gave his heart to the Lord and repented...just months before his death as it turned out.
But there was a season that Dad was not a very nice man. In talking to Mom about some of those days and the things that happened, she said, "You know Gordon, I don't remember them."
I was stunned because of what some of those things were. I couldn't imagine anyone not remembering them.
I asked her how that could be. What she said may be helpful to any of you wrestling with bitterness. She said:
"I went to my pastor, Dan Bean and he prayed for me. What he prayed for was that my memories be healed. And they were. There are many things that I just don't remember."
Mom was not in denial. She wasn't that kind of person. She honestly didn't remember some of the most hurtful things that had happened. God had healed her memories.
Of course she wouldn't have had to go to her pastor to have that prayer prayed for her. I merely shared that part with you because that is how it happened for her. The key point the prayer to the Lord for her memories to be healed.
You don't need a pastor to pray....and I say that having been a pastor since 1982. You can pray that prayer or any other prayer, just fine by yourself.
If you are experiencing bitterness in your life, let me encourage you to pray that your memories be healed. Pray that God will release you from the pain of the past, so that it doesn't poison your present.
Let no root of bitterness grow up and defile many. Be honest with yourself. If you are bitter, admit it...then deal with it. God will help you if you turn to him.