Just call me bitter

broken to beautiful
bitter to blessed

You have that friend, right?  The one who always sees the proverbial glass half empty, or some days the glass seems to be turned upside down with not even a drop in sight.  It's justifiable, bitterness, that is, for all of us, really.  Unmet expectations, broken relationships, disappointing circumstances, dashed dreams  - the fairytale life that just hasn't resulted in happily ever after.  As a matter of fact there doesn't even seem to be just the happy part.  We've all had feelings of bitterness, and we may even have shared those feeling with a close friend or our spouse.  The word bitter is defined in the four taste sensations as being NOT sweet, sour or salty; more definitive as cynical, distressful, resentful, hard to  bear...  Often the feelings of bitterness are compounded as we replay, retell or relay the circumstances and the people that prompted our plight.

Frank and I have often said that one advantage of raising four children is the necessity of not focusing to intensely on one child's challenge or difficulty, because you can be sure someone else will experience something more challenging and difficult within days or even hours of the first!

Like me, you know those friends that you often say about, "if anyone has every right to live in the pit of bitterness, its ________.  Her life is barely believable.  If the game of who has the "most likely to be bitter" superlative were on the list for seniors in high school, not one would be lobbying for votes! There was one, however, that did.  If you  know her story, you'll agree, Naomi SHOULD be bitter.  In just five verses in the Old Testament book of Ruth, we hear her heartache.  Because of famine, she and her husband moved their family from their home in Bethlehem to the land of Moab where they were strangers.  While there, her husband died, leaving her a widow.  Her two sons married young  women, and just a few years later, her sons both died leaving now three widows.

Naomi plans to travel back to Bethlehem, back home, having heard that the famine is over.  After a bit of discussion, one daughter-in-law insists on accompanying her.  Friends greet them as they return with the excitement you would expect for a long-awaited reunion.  Quickly the happy friends are clearly informed of Naomi's sad reality.  "Don't call me Naomi; call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter."  (Ruth 1:20) Mara actually means bitter or sorrow.   We get it, don't we?  The label - the embracing the label, the feeling it brings; the acceptance of it, even being defined by it.  Even as she introduces herself, I want to ever so gently take hold of her slumped shoulders and speak closely to her tear-stained face, "oh, friend, His grace is sufficient in weakness; you can do it (all things) through Him who gives you strength."

Ephesians 4:31 tells us what to do:  "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every from of malice."  The little cynical piece of me says, oh okay, that's a great command, now where's the "how" to that command.  I took a little time to look through chapter 4 of Ephesians, and Paul does tell us the how.  He spends most of the chapter helping us see how, but read the verses below for a solid beginning:

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Here's my cliff notes - getting rid of bitterness, or any other sin in our lives, doesn't come naturally... we simply must learn the truth that is in Jesus... His truth trumps our feelings.  We have to practice that truth... attitude - ouch!  With His help, I have a part to play in choosing to put off my old self... to adjust my attitude - to change my thinking.

After quite a story in the four chapters of the book of Ruth, Naomi is overwhelmed with the rest of the story of her life.  Ruth marries Boaz, and they have a son.  Her friends join in the praise for this baby boy reminding Naomi (not Mara) that this daughter-in-law who loves herand who is better to you than seven sons, has given birth.  I can only hear Naomi's voice, "just let me tell you about my grandson....  now I do understand that language!

from bitterness to blessed...
from broken to beautiful...

That's the truth the gospel of Jesus offers... truth for eternity... bitterness forever covered by grace.

1 comment

  1. Very timely in light of this last week's events--thanks so much!