Overcoming Bitterness

The man who raped her was a total stranger. He did it in a drunken stupor. When the Navy found out, the sailor was instantly shipped out to sea. While she was seeking legal assistance, the rapist's wife confronted her. “If you sue him,” she said, “you'll ruin my life.”

The woman explained, “My husband is the father of our severely retarded child. If you sue him, he'll divorce me, and I cannot care for the child alone.” She did not sue.

A doctor and his wife planned to adopt the baby. During the waiting time they showed Christian kindness to the young nurse. They were all three shaken when the baby was born deformed and dead. The wife and the nurse cried in each others arms.

“How close I was,” the nurse said, “to becoming utterly consumed with bitterness.”

Joseph could have been consumed with bitterness. His jealous brothers sold him into slavery. When he was bought by an Egyptian, he quickly rose to the leading place in that man's house. Falsely accused of rape by the man's wife, he was imprisoned. The jailer soon placed Joseph in charge of the prison. When Joseph was released, he came to the attention of Pharaoh and ruled from beside Pharaoh's throne.

At each major crisis in his life, Joseph could easily have become bitter. When he was finally reunited with the brothers who first betrayed him, Joseph said, “You meant it for evil. God meant it for good.” There was no bitterness.

Paul could have easily been eaten with bitterness. He was a Jew and a Roman citizen. The world of his day was open before him, but then he chose to follow Jesus of Nazareth. Like Joseph, he, too, ended up in prison. He was later moved to house arrest, but was kept constantly chained to a guard. In that humiliating situation, he wrote letters of love and instruction to churches throughout Asia Minor.

Paul said, “I could easily have become bitter. At one point, in fact, I even despaired of living, but the grace of God has sustained me. All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are living in God's plan.”

And what about Jesus? For three and one-half years He gave of himself with total kindness, healing the sick, raising the dead, performing miracles which blessed thousands. Yet one of His own sold Him for money, the rest of His closest friends fled into hiding, and His enemies crucified Him.

“Come down from the cross,” they shrieked, “and we will believe you.”

“Where are those legions of angels,” they mocked. “Why doesn't someone help you?”

With one word He could have destroyed them all, but instead He prayed, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” Centuries later when we do know what we are doing, He says, “Forgive them, because I love them.”

Remember the young nurse? Human logic would say she would stay away from babies for the rest of her life. Human logic would be wrong. She works in a hospital delivery room and through her tragedy, she now helps parents of stillborns, and badly deformed babies. She reassures those grieving parents, “Don't let this make you bitter. God will use it to bless you. He blessed me.”

Now then, the circumstance in your life which troubles you. Have you looked at it from God's viewpoint? Let Him use it to make you better, not bitter.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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