Overcoming Bitterness

Removing Bitterness

By Jill Briscoe

One of our own children had a difficult time conceiving.  I found myself wanting to be a grandmother more than anything else in the world!  I was glad of the feelings I began to experience on our children’s behalf, because it helped me to understand a little of their deep struggle.  Suddenly it seemed that everyone around us was getting pregnant and having babies – and I was buying shower gifts for others’ celebrations!  Everywhere we looked we saw babies.  The magazines were full of them; the TV commercials featured them.  Everyone was using cute little babies to sell their products.  Even young mothers playing in the park with their children triggered that yearning feeling.  Maybe this is your struggle too.

Or perhaps it is a longing to be married that has engendered bitterness.  Or maybe you have had high hopes for a career opportunity or have had some special personal goal that has been thwarted.  If this is the case, know that emptiness can invite bitterness to invade and control you.  Suddenly, you can come to the end and find yourself running on empty. It’s what we do at such times that determines our well-being and God’s glory!         

When you become obsessed with the notion that only the desired end can satisfy you, and the desired end is withheld, bitterness is bound to take over.  That is unless you turn it over to God.  But how do you do that, you may ask, when God is the One who has the power to give you your heart’s desire and has been busy withholding the very thing you beg Him for?  That’s a good question!  So how do we deal with this tension?  How do we go about overcoming bitterness in our lives?  

Talk to God about it – in prayer and in tears. That’s where it has to begin. You need to get alone and start to tell Him just how you feel about it all.  Even if you’ve done that a thousand times before, you can do it one more time!  Tell Him everything you’ve wanted to unload for so long!

It’s not that God doesn’t understand all of this, and it is certainly not that God has been detached or forgetful of your agony.  It is not even that God is ignorant of the facts of the case.  But it is necessary that you begin to tell Him what is in your heart.  Don’t worry about what you sound like either; let the angry tears flow.  And if you can’t put the whole sad scene into words because you’re so empty you even seem to be empty of words, just kneel down and say, “I am a prayer, Lord. Read me,” and He will!  You are in fact an open book to Him.  Read, marked, and learned, your story has already been recorded in heaven!

There is a beautiful therapy in this sort of praying, for the exercise of such heartfelt prayer eventually leads to hope!  The final step towards overcoming bitterness and finding resolution is when we are able to accept whatever answer God gives us.  We are finally able to leave it with Him. There’s no more trying to twist God’s arm with enough prayer to make Him come through with the goods.  No more hoping that enough shouting, crying, and tearing our hair out will touch the heart of God and extract a favor He had for some reason been withholding. 

Once we arrive at this point of abandonment of all our hopes and dreams, we are able to have a good cry, wash our face, get up and get on with it.  It’s at that point that God can really work and heal our broken dreams.

James 3:14-16 tells us that bitterness leads to confusion and defiance.  therefore overcoming and removing bitterness in our lives is a necessary step to accepting whatever answer God gives and whatever circumstance He allows.  It is our prayer that by reading the articles below, you will find tools and encouragement to help you in your own struggle in dealing with bitterness.  

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