Highlands Blog

How to Be Bitter

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Posted in Highlands Blog under Character, Personal Growth, Sanctification

Bitter looking man.

Bitter from Birth

There exists a brilliant prescription for bitterness and we do not even have to wait in line at the CVS to pick it up. We are just born with it. From birth we have assumed that we are the center of the universe, that all of life and those other creatures we see around us exist to serve us. If we have very godly parents and at least one sibling, this notion becomes diffused a bit, though we suspect that the operating law is still valid but must be obeyed in light of several (annoying) amendments.

We want to be God and in light of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, that notion rarely leaves us. We want what we want when we want it. And like a small child we throw a fit when we do not get our way. And we feel righteous indignation because, after all, fulfilling our personal desires is all that God wants to do? Isn’t it?

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, (Bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20–21).

Naomi is bitter because of how God has acted in her life. That makes sense to us doesn’t it? We are bitter because of how God acts in our lives. We want to be the god of our lives; we want to be comfortable, wealthy, healthy and the real God often has other plans for us. Often unexplained, often difficult, often requiring great faith.

Paul addresses this in Romans:

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20).

We the creature protest the Creator. In our foolishness and sin we dare to raise a voice to the Almighty God. Instead of echoing the Seraphim and living a life of constant praise, we live lives of constant complaints. We fail in acknowledging, with every breath we take, that it’s about Him and His glory and whatever we have, whatever state we find ourselves in is far more than we deserve and the plan He has for us, whatever our personal feelings about it at that time, is absolutely perfect.

Tested & Tried

The most righteous Job eventually succumbs to his suffering: “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”

God tested him more than he probably will any of us but still answers his complaints with a righteous fury:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’

Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It takes on form like clay under a seal, and stands out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and the upraised arm is broken. Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.’”

This heavenly monologue goes on. By the end, Job is a sobbing wreck, flailing in a puddle of tears. No, he has no answers, he knows nothing. God has set the record straight. Our perspective is infinitesimal, His is eternal. Our power is meaningless, His is unlimited, our love of ourselves is embarrassing and His love for us exceeds even that.

How can we be bitter? Pretend that we know best how our lives should go, pretend that it all revolves around us, that God isn’t God and that He doesn’t have a glorious plan for us and our lives, the whole world indeed and for our good and for His glory.

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