Todd and I ran into an old friend a while back. Excited to see him again, we approached, but as we did, it quickly became apparent something was different. Wrong.
It wasn’t just that our friend had aged with the passing of time. No, it was that his eyes, once bright and mischievous, were dim, almost lifeless. Pained.
It felt like a bad dream, and I stopped short, gooseflesh creeping up the right side of my body.
As Todd engaged our friend in conversation, I relaxed a little. He sounded the same, had the same mannerisms, referenced mutual friends. He hadn’t been body snatched or anything—I’m kidding, of course—but he wasn’t the same, either, and as he spoke, I couldn’t shake the feeling something had gotten hold of him.
It took all of a minute to figure out what.
A casualty of church polity and familial strife, our friend was still lying where he had fallen many, many years ago, alone by choice, angry by habit, warming himself by a fire of painful memories.
Over time, hurt and disillusionment had given way to self-pity, self-pity had evolved into negativity, and negativity had landed our friend squarely in the pit of defeatism.
A sneaky, silent, slithering thing, bitterness is. Before its victims even know what’s happened, it bites, sinks its venom deep and, like a parasite, begins sipping and sucking at the heart of its host, wreaking havoc.
Among other things, bitterness skews perspective, stirs suspicion, and alters judgment.
Bitterness spotlights self and stunts spiritual growth.
Bitterness prevents healing, robs joy, and stands in the way of happiness.
Bitterness erodes trust and destroys relationships.
Bitterness gives the Enemy and those who serve him control they have not earned.
The list goes on and on.
Scary! Want to know the worst part? Those affected usually don’t even realize they’ve been bitten.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Right now, check your heart for traces of bitterness. Where needed, forgive as God has forgiven you, proactively, completely, freely (Eph. 4:31-32). Determine to leave judgment up to God from now on. Then glorify God by moving forward in the freedom from sin and victory over death and destruction He made available to you through Jesus Christ (1 John 5:4-5).
Listen, friends, sooner or later, we all go through something unimaginably painful. Unfortunately, that’s part of being a human being broken by sin who lives on a planet broken by sin.
I don’t mean to minimize or dismiss your personal experience. Not at all!
You may feel like what you’re going through is worse than what other people go through, and you may be right. I don’t know, but I do know this: What the Enemy intends for evil in your life, your Heavenly Father can and will work for your good and His glory if you let Him (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).
Please, for yourself and for the rest of us, let Him!