I know bitterness holds people back. It feels like being stuck. The “bitter old woman” is a bit of a cliché, but when I hear that phrase, I think of someone who is somehow cemented in the past, unforgiving, and resentful.
This has certainly been true of me at various points in my life. I’ve been bitter about events that have occurred and enraged at the failures of people in my life.
The Bible has a lot of say about bitterness, including Proverbs 14:10, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”
Last May I found my heart at a bit of an emotional precipice. While trying to turn left across a busy highway at a tricky spot, we were in a car accident. Although it was a serious accident (our car was totaled and airbags deployed), miraculously no one was seriously hurt including our three little girls who were in the car at the time. As I tried to sort through my feelings afterwards, I realized I had a choice. I could look at the accident two ways.
On one hand, I could think to myself, “Where was God on that day? Why didn’t he protect us from being in the accident?” On the other hand, I could think, “Wow, I’m so thankful God spared us from any serious injuries or death. He obviously prevented something worse from happening.” I could choose to become bitter that the accident had occurred at all, or I could choose to be thankful that God protected us from much worse.
Although it took months for me to feel comfortable in the car again and there are still things I’m working on, I did choose thankfulness. If I had chosen bitterness, it would have kept me fastened to that moment, unable to move forward because of my resentment. Because God led me to choose thankfulness, I was able to look forward with hope. God still has a purpose for my life. He chose to spare my family, and I believe He has a special plan for us.
Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
That place of being stuck, bitterness, is a place of unforgiveness, anger and hopelessness. Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” How much trouble has bitterness caused? God calls us to more—to forgiveness and hope. He calls us to press on and seek the crown of life which He has promised.
Sarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.