I have seen bitterness run rampant and destroy marriages and relationships with children in horrible ways. I have sat with women who are harboring bitterness like a treasure. They have stored it away in their hearts in a safe place. They say things like, “It does not affect my life. I am just not ready to lay it down. I control my emotions well enough that it does not affect me.”
And these same women admit that they are angry. But they somehow think it’s not affecting them.
I also sit with women who are there because of countless broken relationships. Issues in marriage. Issues with children. Issues with other women. These women have not been able to maintain a female friendship ever in their lives. And when I suggest anger or bitterness as the reason, they deny it. They are not angry. They have forgiven and let it go.
I have sometimes responded: “Friend your life does not bear fruit of forgiveness and letting it go. Bitterness is a seed. It grows and grows. It consumes everything in its path. Often I can see it in a face. Tight lips. Furrowed brows. I can hear it in a voice. Sharp commanding edges. Short clipped tones. I can see it in an attitude. Short, unhappy, impatient responses. Attitudes that are ‘superior’ or ‘know it all.’ These repeated behaviors are telling signs of what is happening in a calloused, angry heart. Bitterness is wicked. It leaves a mess in its wake.”
I have had occasion to discuss bitterness and anger often over the last few months with my sweet daughter, Becca. She has suffered some tragic hurt in her life and it has left her confused and searching for justice. The answers she has found, while biblical, have not always been easy to swallow. She found out that even when treated unjustly, she is not to revile. Even when insulted she is not to threaten. Even when cast aside and abandoned she is not to hate.
Oh my word! How hard the biblical truth of the love of God has been for her to read this last year. I have watcher her lay down her anger over and over again. And then find out something new and pick it up again. Heartbreaking.
The words of God through the Apostle Peter have done her much good. They have been her anchor in a world gone crazy.
When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
If the Bible is true, and I know it is, and Becca knows it is, then we are able by sanctifying grace to lay down every hurt or wrong done against us and entrust ourselves to the One who judges justly. God is just. He is right. He makes only right decisions. He never goes against His nature. He never does anything unjust.
What truth! What a beautiful, life-changing truth! I can trust Him. Becca can trust Him. When she is reviled against she can not only not revile back, but also not be angry back. She can simply say to her just God, “I leave that in Your capable, just hands.”
When she is abandoned and forsaken and left alone, she can recall the precious words of Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” She can count on her capable, just God.
When we live like this, there is no room for anger or bitterness. There is no place for offense to take foothold because God is in charge and He is just. He is working every single wound to our good to make us like Christ (Rom 8:28-29). Peace that surpasses understanding is the result of trusting Him more than we trust our own “rights” and above our felt need for vengeance. God never gets anything wrong. He is at work on behalf of believers all the time. Christ and the Holy Spirit are justly interceding on our behalf to make all things right.
This is our anchor and hope. Praise God for never failing at anything! He is perfectly right and just. He is trustworthy!
Lay down your bitterness. Lay down your anger. Pray and ask for help. God is able to bear it for you. Bitter women make bitter enemies because bitterness is enmity with God. It has no place in the kingdom of God. Praise the Lord for real freedom from anger through the gospel of Jesus Christ.