Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Ephesians 4;31 ESV
Turning My Page: Bitterness Has No Place
“You can keep your mouth shut, God!” I yelled. I was mad, and I was going to stay angry until I heard an apology from the offending party. Not even God was going to get in my way this time. My husband was wrong; he hurt me, and that was all there was to it. God has a way of meddling with my temper and teaching me my heart’s attitude needs to change to be more like His. I have been apologizing for breathing since early childhood, and I resent being the one to make peace when my insides are roaring. I didn’t do anything wrong.
There is a very strong word for this…
I suppose it is a testimony to how much the God of the universe and I speak to one another that I attempted to be so familiar with him. And since I am not ashes, he might have nudged Gabriel and laughed. “My daughter just told me to shut up.” Any humor He found at the moment did not dissuade Him from taking a spiritual paddle to me.
The Holy Spirit nudged me and whispered, Do you really want to hold onto this anger?
A flash of twenty-two years of unchecked bitterness flashed in my mind. I already knew where bitterness led. Self-harm, guardedness, broken relationships, and layer upon layer of pent-up rage. in childhoodAt, what might have started as righteous anger quickly became an attitude of unforgiveness. Bitterness led to depression and suicide attempts. Bitterness gripped my soul so much that when the monster was finally revealed, I could hardly stand it! It ripped me apart: mind, body, and spirit.
Only when I confessed and released my anger did love fill the void, and now, knowing the healing power in forgiveness, I desire, above all else, to keep a short account. That means grudges are out of the question. I can’t bring up past hurts, and I can’t nurse and dwell on being wounded by others. God desires faith, hope, and love to rule over my wounded heart.
Lest you think this brushes over any hurt caused by another, please hear me. God makes it clear that it doesn’t. Just listen in on the brothers of Joseph who, in their hatred, got rid of Joseph and left him for dead. When they unknowingly have to face Joseph, the brother they left for dead, Joseph has a chance to get even with them, but he hears them say the following:
Then they said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21 BSB)
Joseph broke down in tears. Had to go to his private chambers and let out years of pent-up emotions. I bet anything that Joseph wrestled. The dream was coming true. Not how he imagined it, but how God imagined it. God may have reached into Joseph’s heart and asked the same question he asked me. Joseph, my son, do you really want to hold onto the bitterness? His brothers were a mess, and tno amount of revenge wouldfree Joseph from the years of betrayal and hardship. But forgiveness, oh, the sweet violence of forgiveness!
There is nothing like the release of forgiveness. In that moment with my husband, it came quickly. Years later, our bond is stronger, and I don’t regret for a second humbling myself and forgiving him in that moment I didn’t want to. As I grow in trusting God with the wounds I receive in this life, I realize how temporary suffering is and how prominent forgiveness is.
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:24 ESV). Jesus said that from the cross. In light of his love, forgiveness, and pleading for mercy to his Heavenly Father, how can I not let go of anger and forgive quickly?
Turning Your Page
Oh, sweet friend, I speak to you as one who knows some of the deepest wounds this world can inflict. Is bitterness, malice, envy, jealousy, and hatred worth losing your soul? If you are ready to lay down your desire for vengeance, where in the world to start?
- Confess what is making you angry.
- Remember all the areas God has forgiven you.
- Take a look at how Jesus responded to persecution.
- Taking your thoughts captive and speaking the truth of scripture over them.
- Acknowledge the hurt, and ask God what he wants you to do with it.
- Pray for those who have hurt you.
Lord, these wounds are too much! Do you see them? Sear into my soul remembrance of the grace and forgiveness you extend to me. May I cry out for mercy to those who hurt me rather than vengeance. Amen