There are a few truths we need to recognize when it comes to keeping bitterness out of our lives or overcoming it in our hearts. The first thing that we need to recognize is that God is a Sovereign God. He is in control of all creation. This is something that was hard for me to grasp after struggling with why God allowed bad things to happen in my own life. God has a permissive will and a direct will. His permissive will allows or permits good or in this case bad, things to happen in order that He be glorified in the end. We may never know the reasons why God allows bad things to happen, or even good things for that matter, and we don’t need to know. We just need to know that God is God and we are not and that His plan and purpose will be accomplished. Jesus , understood this. God permissively allowed His son to be tortured, beaten and crucified. And yet on the cross, Jesus’ response to the mockers was “Father, forgive them…” He understood that God had an awesome plan and that even if it meant the pain and agony He went through He knew that God would be glorified. He didn’t become bitter , He forgave and acknowledge that God is a Sovereign God. It is good for us to be reminded that God is all-knowing. He sees beyond our immediate circumstance and pain and sees the end result. In the example of Jesus, He saw what Jesus’ crucifixion would accomplish, He saw struggling frail sinful humanity and desperately longed for us to be made new and find salvation in Him! I don’t know why God allows things to happen, but I do know that He always has a plan far greater than we could ever comprehend and I know that if you faithfully walk with Him and trust Him in the circumstance you will see one day why it happened. I know that is true in my life and I know it can be true in yours too.

Secondly, we need to realize that God is a just God. He is an impartial God. A quote that I found recently (from christiannet.com) is this “Justice is not an optional product of His (God’s) will, but an unchangeable principle of His character.” He is righteous.

Thirdly, we need to realize that we become what we focus on. If we are focusing on all the horrible things that have happened to us, we are destined for depression, despair and a miserable life. But if we dwell on who God is and His promises, we are well on our way and we will be able to see God doing great things through the circumstances in our lives. When we focus on Christ and not the circumstance we realize that God is indeed in control and we start to see His character more clearly. When we begin to see who we are in relation to who God is, we see our sin more clearly and realize that our sin is no different than the sin of those who have hurt us. Romans 3:23 says, “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We also need to follow Christ’s example of forgiveness. 1 Peter 2:21-23 gives us great insight into His character and His response to those who betrayed and hurt Him. It says, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” We need to do the same to those who have hurt us. Harboring bitterness only hurts those who harbor it and blinds us to the purpose God has in the circumstance! Forgiveness requires us to see God for who He is, a Sovereign and just God. As we focus on Him and see the one who hurt us as He sees them and us alike, through eyes of love and forgiveness, this then opens up the door for Him to do awesome things in and through a seemingly horrible situation in our lives.

If you are a believer you can hold on to Romans 8:26-28 which says, “In the same way the Spirit, also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we KNOW that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” How often is the pain of your past too deep for words? I know I have felt that way many times. But isn’t it a comfort to know that God understands even the unsaid!

So what about you? Are you harboring bitterness toward those have hurt you? Do you want to live a life free of bitterness? Then why not get a different perspective of the situation and view the situation through God’s eyes and follow the example Christ has laid out for us. Realize that God has a purpose in every tough time.  And then sit back and watch all that God will accomplish through the circumstance.

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