How to Beat Bitterness
In our study of the book of Ruth, we’ve seen that Naomi changed her name to Mara, meaning “bitter.” Naomi complained that God had dealt very bitterly with her, and that God had afflicted her.
Most of us have experienced affliction. We’ve seen disasters, tragedies, sorrow, pain, and death. The older you get, the more often you are associated with affliction.
Last week I spoke about how to understand God’s relationship to pain, disaster, and suffering. The Bible helps us understand that God in his sovereignty allows us to experience tragedy and disaster. We believe all things are under God’s control, and that God has a morally sufficient reason for the things he allows to happen. God’s ultimate plan is to eradicate pain, sorrow, tragedy, and death.
But until we get to heaven, we have to deal with this fallen world, which is full of disasters and calamities. How do we endure these trials and tribulations without becoming bitter? When we are hurt by wicked people or by natural disasters, how do we avoid feelings of bitterness?
First, let’s define bitterness. Bitterness refers to strong feelings of hatred, resentment, and distrust; bitterness is “hurt that one holds.” A typical response to calamity, pain, and loss is animosity, anger and resentment—i.e., bitterness.
Bitterness comes from a refusal to forgive or to handle pain biblically. The sense of having been wronged becomes life-dominating for the bitter person. Anger and resentment over past difficulties seems to color all of life. Bitterness often so controls a person that he sins in many other areas.
Personal bitterness rarely remains contained in the bitter person. Bitterness usually affects others. “A bitter root bears bitter fruit.”