The source of bitterness
Unmet expectations lead to resentment and unchecked resentment breeds bitterness. When bitterness takes root in your life, it grows into an ugly monster wreaking havoc in every area of your life.
Bitterness is contagious
The worst effect of bitterness is strained relationships. When one person suffers in a family or community, the people around that person also suffer as a consequence. When one generation acts out of bitterness, the next generation also acts out of the same bitterness, because to them it seems normal. When someone treats us badly, we may be tempted to respond in the same way to others. Sometimes, victims of bullying become bullies. This response becomes a habit and if left unchecked, it can pass on from person to person and generation to generation.
When we receive a promise from God, it can seem like a stark contrast to our reality. Abraham was promised a child when he was well into his old age. David was anointed king too early and while the reigning king was still alive. The Israelites were promised an inheritance while they were slaves in another country. This is how God demonstrates His power – by turning an impossible situation around to good.
When we receive a promise from God in our own lives, we expect it to be beneficial to us. It does benefit us in the long run, but it isn’t necessarily comfortable or easy and it also involves a significant waiting period. Abraham had to wait several years for him to receive his promise, as did David and the Israelites. During this waiting period, God changes us in order to grow us and, through such situations, our faith is built.
Waiting can make us feel anxious, confused and fearful. We may begin to doubt the promise we received, or we may resign to our circumstances. Both are equally dangerous.
What do you do when you are doubtful?
An addiction is something that keeps a person enslaved. We can be addicted to more than one thing at a time, but the good news is, it is possible to overcome our addictions. Whether an addiction is to a physical object or activity or mental (toxic thinking), it manifests from the mind and therefore should be handled by changing our thinking.
Acknowledge your temptations, addictions and sins to yourself and to God. You cannot change something if you don’t admit you have a problem. Also, examine if there is a deeper reason why you are giving in to certain temptations and address the root cause.
Solomon writes a warning against adultery in the book of Proverbs, which can be applied to other temptations too. Temptation makes you believe a lie, to lure you in and attack you later.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
Proverbs 5:3-4 NIV
Solomon says to flee from temptation and completely avoid the path of evil. Do not even let yourself be tempted. Temptation starts small, but hides the consequences.
Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house,
Proverbs 5:8 NIV
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
Proverbs 6:27-28 NIV
However, if you still find yourself in such a situation, choose to do the right thing. Even if you sin, God will not abandon you. He is gracious and will help you through it like a loving father.
You have probably heard this saying, ‘Life is a journey’. Our spiritual life is also a journey. Jesus talks about our spiritual life in the Parable of the Sower.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23 NIV
In life, there are several times that we have to make decisions. Every day, we decide what to eat, what to wear and what to do. There are some decisions that are life-changing, like where to live, whom to marry and what career to pursue. It is important to make such decisions carefully.
What do we do when faced with such decisions?
Do the right thing: It sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy or popular. Remember when you do the right thing, you shouldn’t have to compromise on your character or values. When you have to do something wrong to get something right, it’s not the right decision and it could lead to negative consequences.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
If you don’t know what the right thing is, ask God to give you the wisdom to discern between right and wrong. If you still need help, ask God to guide you to the right resources and people.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5 NIV
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV
How naturally does the word “thanks” come to you? For some, it’s a habit. For others, it’s occasional.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
The Bible says to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Can we really do that? It is natural to be grateful when something good happens to us but when something bad happens, it seems almost impossible. When we are suffering, it is reasonable to feel disappointed and discouraged, but such feelings can keep us fixated ONLY on what is going wrong in our life.
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Have you ever believed something for a long time without questioning it? It could be something about yourself or others or how life is supposed to be. I know I have.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were shaken to your very core? Life is like that. It can knock you off your feet. The truth is we all go through such seasons at some point of time or the other.
When you’re in the middle of a dark season it can cause you to question God’s goodness. Our worst doubts and insecurities are revealed. We can even doubt God’s intentions.
Why is He punishing me? Why is this happening to me? What did I do? What should I do?