~ A Last Word ~
It is better to hurt than to be bitter. Read it again. It is so true.
It is better to hurt than to be bitter.
We can protect ourselves by building walls and by severing ties, but we will not heal. We will become bitter. Bitterness is a grotesque disease that eats away at our souls. Bitterness does not bring peace. It does not make our wound known to others. It does not make others sympathize with us. We will become callous towards others and may even become the very things we are bitter towards.
Those that hurt us need an opportunity to make it right. For our sakes and their own. Even if we do not feel they deserve it. One of the hardest things to do is embrace a sword. But it will be harder on us to become bitter. Bitterness leads only to desolation for ourselves and everyone else involved. But hurting and suffering from the hand of others is, believe it or not, constructive.
When we start to reject love, when we stop communicating, when we can no longer make eye-contact with someone, when they say something loving and it is repulsive to us...we are bitter. We have built walls. We are becoming self-destructive. I know that it can take hold of anyone's heart.Age and spiritual status have no bearing on bitterness. It can take hold of you. In the smallest of ways. It is a parasite. Don't willingly become a victim. You will be destroyed.
Someone who had every right to be bitter wrote:
“We can use hardness of heart as a defense mechanism, protecting us from becoming too involved...It can enable us to remain outside situations without being hurt by them...but such hardness and stony-heartedness can keep others at arm's length.” (Roseveare 99)
She goes on to say that Christ's love shows through those who are not “afraid of being hurt by giving too much of themselves. Their love knows no limits. Their love mirrors Christs.” (Roseveare 99)
Half a year after the decision to love I wrote this:
“ I am in awe of how the Lord heals. He is amazing. And how, once I finally was willing to obey and even share my heart with this person, then the Lord stepped in and did the rest. I still haven't even shared with this person where I'm at, and yet, the Lord has changed both our hearts! The Lord is doing such a work in my family. It is worth the little trial we are going through. Circumstances don't have to change in order for Him to work. He loves to prove His power in our lives by overcoming and giving victory despite the circumstance.”
God's love will kill bitterness. They cannot co-mingle. All wants are satisfied through His love! Even when our earthly selfish love still is there and hasn't changed...His love can still work. Life no longer is a burden! His loving kindness is too great for resentment to take root. Since I have given up this bitterness and asked Jesus to love through me, my life has been filled with abundant and abounding peace.
Hannah Whitall Smith said:
“Where there is a perfect care-taker there can be no cares; where there is an invincible protector there can be no anxieties.” (Smith 34) Our lives and circumstances are bearable when we realize they have been allowed and approved by Christ and we trust Him. I've trusted, obeyed and He has done the impossible through me and doubly rewarded me with peace. Just because He can. He is a sweet lover.
“I love Him. He IS my everything. He fulfills all my needs where relationships fail. The other day, I realized I still yearn to be loved by my human relationships, to have them interested in me and my doings and to give a little effort in knowing me and spend some time winning my heart. I still want that. But it isn't a desperate feeling. And I had an “old” hurt come up. Other little hurts flashed up in my heart. But I let them go.
I don't feel offended. I didn't push my relationships away. I didn't try to make them mean less to me so their wounding would mean less to me. I didn't pine away for acceptance. I didn't dwell on the wrong. I just gave it all to Jesus and He took it and He naturally filled that little void that seemed to be a little tear in His stitching. He is a balm. I am satisfied in Him. It's okay for my human relationships to fall short because the LORD picks up right where they leave off. He knows how to be a good parent. He knows how to be the perfect lover. He can never disappoint. And when we don't expect perfection from our earthly relationships, we are okay with their limited (or even lack of) love because Jesus is the rest – He makes up for their lack. He satisfies our need. Isn't that amazing that He could be all of that for me, AND I would be content? No disquiet or hurt or offenses? And I am learning to love others. My love for them is imperfect as well. It gives me grace for them. But it takes Love to love someone. And when He is my love then the loving others isn't so hard. I am convinced that everyone can be loved, that everyone is loveable, through such a Love as He. Sometimes He just waits for a vessel to love through. To think of the suffering souls out there just because we are unwilling to be loved through! It involves a risk of not being loved back, or worse: being hurt in return. But it's worth it! His love is more than sufficient – it's satisfactory, it's overflowing, it's life!”
What are you bitter over? Who has hurt you? What makes you cry out to the Lord when you are alone? What is your wound? Who is your sword? Has it ever occurred to you that the Lord has allowed it to reach you? Sometimes He sends cruelty in the shape of a family member with hurtful words, or an inconvenience or an illness. We grafted branches are required to be pruned...He wants to see fruit. We say we are eager to serve Him and to be used by Him, but we recoil from His agents. It's not by chance we are bombarded by these hurts. Nothing touches us without His permission. He's our Father, Creator, Refuge, Friend...remember? If we hurt, it is because He allowed it for some good. His tools to mold us sometimes come in human form. Of course the sin of the sorrow isn't God's will, but by the time it reaches us, it has become His will, His servant, His tool, His best. I spent so much time trying to escape my hurt, trying to ignore it, pushing it aside that I never saw the opportunity to be released and gain a blessing.
I never knew it was possible to love my enemy. To really love them. To delight in them and have their faults veiled by love. It is possible.
Even later I wrote:
“I was asked recently, “Is all well with thee?” If I am stressed, feel turmoil, have clashing, hurtful relationships and fellowship then all is not well. It is not my responsibility to make sure that my family is treating me Biblically and kindly. If I choose to stand by my rights, over loving that person, then I will find myself standing alone with my rights...a very lonely place to be. Even if I am right and have a just cause to not love, I will find bitterness a companion. Life is too short to have bitterness as a companion. I cannot love someone who wounds me, but Christ can. He is the key to this.”
Jesus asks – “Whilt thou be whole?” It is a sacrifice to submit my hard feelings and ask for a thankful heart and to begin praising when I am upset. There is nothing around this fact: it's hard. But He is faithful and He can kill bitterness, He can satisfy my needy soul, He can remove the burden without the circumstance changing. But I have to ask Him to. He won't force me to take His best. My prayer can turn from desperation to thankfulness. My little sacrifice of choosing to trust Him and thanking Him for my wound leads to the most amazing, lasting, healthy peace. I can choose Him and the rest is His affair. Not mine. God is bigger than my ugly feelings. He is able, He wants to and He does. He is a Master at subduing. He waits when I throw temper tantrums and He never gives up on me.
Despair is a hard foe. Bitterness can drown the very life out of you. But peace and thankfulness and restoration are only a prayer away. No good thing will He withhold from us. Stop keeping Him at arm's length. We have a choice whether or not our bonds hold us in misery or whether we learn from it and thank Him and find joy and can be used and He can be magnified. Emotional bitter chains sometimes are given so we will learn from them. Our circumstances are the same, the chains are the same...but we can let them weigh us down or we can allow them to lift us up. We are given a choice.
Are the notes of bitterness natural because of how often we practice playing them? Our bitter attitude doesn't teach the offender anything. We are not a conscience. We aren't punishing them. We aren't showing them anything.
And vice versa. My love for the offender is not condoning or approving them or their sin. My bitterness is probably a far greater sin then whatever they did that hurt me. The offender may be unable to grow in his relationship with the Lord if you hold him back in your criticism and resentment. We are to count it all joy, to take pleasure in our infirmities, and glory in this tribulation! It will grow us into a sweet and Christ-filled person. Or we can become bitter, angry people. The Lord is hampered in using us because of our bitterness. What record will we leave behind when we pass on?
Jonah, in the Bible, had every right to be bitter. The Ninevites were like the future Nazis. They tortured the Jews...hunted them down and skinned them alive and all sorts of brutalities. But his bitterness did nothing but destroy himself and leave a story of grace finished in a sour conclusion. And Jonah probably never even realized he was bitter. Not that he wouldn't admit it, but he never even knew he was! Bitterness starts subtly and grows. “Dost thou well to be angry?” A glorious peaceful life is so close...just for the asking.
Is all well with thee?
"'Corrie,' he began instead, 'do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. God loves Karel -even more than you do-and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way.'"