Bitter Or Better: The Simple Truth About Your Joy In Life (Or Lack Of It!)
May 1, 2008
The toughest, most courageous people in history have been people who in their lives have endured terrible, unfortunate circumstance. I have two friends who are brothers, whose father deserted them when they were young. One went on to have a successful life and family, the other destroyed his relationships, and lived in much bitterness. Both grew up in the same home, with the same parents. What was the difference?
Abuse, neglect, rejection, and all the other horrible things that happen to people, will either destroy a person or it will propel them to a bright destiny. But why the different outcomes? Because every person has two choices whenever anything painful occurs in their life. Choice one is become bitter; choice two is become better. It is a simple truth, but foundational for living a life of freedom and joy.
At the root of every one of your negative behavior issues lies a choice you made, consciously or subconsciously, to become bitter. This choice was made at a time when you experienced some kind of pain-physical or emotional.
What Does Bitter Mean?
Bitter doesn't necessarily mean angry. Bitter is like chewing a lemon peel. It means that when you are hurt you embrace a belief system to protect yourself from the same pain reoccurring. This belief system is like a virus in a computer-it runs continuously in the background unnoticed, scrambling all the processes. The result of bitterness is that you make a subconscious plan of self-protection. This self-protection stands in sharp contrast to God's protection. God's protection makes a person better; self-protection makes one bitter.
Don't Waste Your Sorrows:
Years ago, I was influenced by a book called Don't Waste Your Sorrows. The book is about the powerful opportunity that every painful experience provides us to grow stronger, wiser, and more influential. For everybody, life is a series of wounds, rejections, hurts, and abuses. There are those who embrace this fact, somehow, early in life and are catapulted by these wounds into a more enriching life, and there are those who react negatively toward these pains and create a self-protective pattern that destroys a part of their life. Gene Edwards writes: If you make your past your present, you will destroy your future. This means that if your past is still controlling the way you act, react, think, or behave, you are destroying your future.
The list of wounds you may have experienced is innumerable, including rejection from a parent, sexual abuse, being born crippled, ugly, or poor. It may be abandonment by a friend, spiritual leader, or a spouse. Perhaps you saw your dad murdered by terrorists, or were told you were worthless by those you respected. Maybe you have children that have become bitter because of wounds you inflicted on them. I don't know how to undo all the pain of your past or present, but I do know that you have two choices; I know that you can give your sorrows to God, learn from your mistakes, accept His forgiveness, and become a better person from this day forward. The choice is yours.
Isaiah 61:1-7 describes the mission of Christ:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
So What Do I Do?
By a choice, take the total package of your past, and turn the bitter into the better by nailing all your pains, hurts, wounds, failures, and shameful places to the cross of Jesus. Forgive those you need to forgive. Repent to those you need to repent to. Ask God to use you to help others choose better-ness instead of bitterness. Use your past, right now, to catapult you into a brighter future-free from the pains of the past Then write to us and tell us how God changed your life.
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