Have you fallen in love with being bitter, without realizing that you were the biggest loser in the process? Have you purposefully made a choice to be bitter or have you stumbled into it? Unbearable circumstances can make us bitter or better, it’s a choice we have to make. Bitterness is an oppressive and destructive emotion having its root in hate. No one can have peace with such emotions tearing at her. Ever heard of the saying, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the next person to die?”
There was a beautiful Jewish woman in the bible who was very bitter. she did not even try to hide it. Her name was Naomi. Ruth 1 v19 -20 “So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Naomi means “my joy” and Mara means “bitter.” This woman had allowed her pain to define who she was. After losing her husband and two sons, in a foreign land, her grief had consumed even the essence of her identity.
Naomi wanted to return to Bethlehem by herself. She wanted to deal with her pain alone. You see, true love exposes your vulnerability when you are hurting, and therefore when we go through painful experiences in our lives we do not want to be surrounded by people who care and love us. Somehow we want to believe that we are protecting them from “our pain”. We somehow don’t mind those who are always throwing direct and indirect provocations at us. Our response to them in return for their aggressions may also be full of bile and hatred. In the process, we lose again. This is not just the story of Naomi, but my story, and your story, if you relate to it.
I don’t think Naomi was “a prisoner of hope.” She had already given up to the point of changing her name. But God allowed Ruth to be part of her journey. Maybe for Ruth, it was just to offer hope for survival or helping Naomi to remember who she once was. Her hope paid off because God had greater things in store for both her and Naomi. God not only redeemed them but He restored them too.
A lady I befriended while in Zimbabwe relocated to South Africa. She is a business woman and it seems as if she turns everything she touches into gold. One day she called me. As she was telling me about her new business venture, I said to her, I really need some of your Midas touch.” She responded by saying, “I don’t mind as long as it is in exchange for your grace.”
Grace? I sat down after our telephonic conversation, repeating the word “grace.” I knew very well what she was talking about, but what she did not know was that “that grace” was gone, it left me. You see the day bitterness entered my life, grace left. Some things just cannot co-exist. Bitterness came in my life like a thief, and made my heart its dwelling place. I did not make a concious choice to be bitter, but I allowed anger and its first cousin, resesntment to fester, and soon they became the corrosive ulcer called bitterness.
Once bitterness, was at work in my life, I would say things and react to situation in a way that would even shock me. I would always ask myself later, “Where did that come from?” I did not know I was capable of saying or doing that. Remember the scripture that says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Bitterness had filled my heart and polluted my soul. My reactions to situations were evident of its presence in my life. In the process, it gave my adversaries an added advantage over me.
In Ephesians 4 v 31 – 32, the bible teaches us to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, be put away from us, with all malice.” And it goes on to tell us how to deal with such bitterness and its friuts by being “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave us. We must always be careful not to allowing”bitter roots” to grow in our hearts, because such roots will cause us to fall short of the grace of God. God desires for His people to live in love, joy peace and holiness, not in bitterness. Therefore we must always watch deligently, being on guard against the grave peril of bitterness.
I once heard Bishop Jakes giving the simplest definition of deliverance, saying it is when you now control what use to control you. Once in a while, bitterness does try to rear its ugly head again, but the this time around, it is no longer in control.