Bitterness. It is a sin that I've struggled with most of my life. I've been bitter towards people, circumstances, and even God. What's interesting is that when any of those change, my bitterness remains. For example, my mom passed away several years ago, but the unresolved bitterness I had towards her did not. Instead, it remained and in some ways manifested. The same is true with my circumstances. For years I was single and wanted to be married. Now I am married and have two children. However, I still struggle with bitterness towards God that I did not have the blessing of a family earlier.
Bitterness destroys our minds, souls, and bodies. John Ortberg Jr. wrote, "Bitterness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die." Eventually, bitterness will kill us either physically - because it can contribute to physical sickness - or spiritually by not allowing us to experience the peace God wants for us.
The most distinct example of bitterness in the Bible is the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Naomi's husband and two sons died, and all she had left were her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Naomi told Ruth and Orpah to go back to their homelands while Naomi went back to hers in Judah. Both women refused and said they wanted to stay with Naomi. However, Naomi insisted they go saying, "Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me" (Ruth 1:13). Here Naomi shows her bitterness towards her circumstances and towards God.
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