Win the Battle with Bitterness
Are you struggling with the pain of your past? Maybe someone betrayed you and you just can’t make sense of it. Or perhaps you’re still in the midst of a toxic situation and losing hope for a way out. Or maybe you’re wondering why God isn’t using you. You love Him and long to do His will, only to find yourself always sitting on the sidelines.
Over the years in my counseling and ministry there has been one thing that has held people back more than anything.
More than a lack of resources. More than even dysfunctional family dynamics.
That one thing is BITTERNESS.
Before you go clicking away and saying, Pss, I know that and that’s not what I struggle with, allow me the grace to challenge you a moment.
- You didn’t click this by mistake
- Bitterness is extremely difficult to see to the naked eye (especially your own eye) as it hides behind layers of pain, pretending and justification,
In other words bitterness is deceptive. And the worst part about deception is that you don’t know you’re being deceived.
So I want to challenge your heart today. If you want to be used by God, if you want God’s love to flow through you, then stay with me….
Bitterness is a cancer that goes deep within you. It affects and infects everything–your relationships, your peace, even your purpose. But the worst part is, you don’t even realize that bitterness has the better of you
Bitterness comes from holding unforgivenss. It typically takes root from an old hurt, and that’s why it’s called the Root of Bitterness. Because this isn’t a surface hurt that you can breathe your way through. This is a hurt you need to pray your way through and so that you can release it.
The hurt could be from a parent whose caused a lot of damage in your life. It could be from a partner who continues to slander your good name. It could be from a friend who betrayed you and now you’re struggling to trust again. It could even be from a church you trusted.
You may have moved on from those people but you took the baggage of bitterness with you.
I get it, it can feel good holding onto the bitterness–as twisted as that sounds, it’s actually a form of control. And without the bitterness, you’d feel like you had no control.
It can even feel foolish to just “let it go.” After all, didn’t God tell us to be wise??
But the truth is, your bitterness doesn’t punish the other person. It will only poison you.
Hebrews 12:15 reminds us to 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.
Once it gets in, bitterness produces nothing productive. It does however produce sin—anger, rage, revenge, isolation, criticism, pessimism, doubt, defensiveness, and the list goes on.
This is why we need to search our heart. That’s why our cry to God should be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23).
You can put a mask on bitterness. You can say all the right words on the outside. But on the inside that bitterness burden is eating away at you like a cancer until someday, someone says something that touches that raw nerve and WOW, there comes the outsized reaction.
It’s not because of what they said or how they said it, it’s because you have a root of bitterness that was touched.
It’s not the time to justify it away. It’s the time to get with the Lord and say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23).
It’s the time to challenge yourself to hang up the contempt and criticism and leave it in the hands of Almighty God.
Bitterness will not bring you a bright future. With bitterness, you can’t see clearly because you’re not viewing it through the lens of scripture but rather through the lens of your past pain.
And it grows.
Maybe it starts with a friend at church hurting you, then it grows into The church hurt me, and then to God hurt me.
Our own attempts at healing are never good either. They are usually in some form of criticism and defensiveness, which leads to protection and isolation or even a full-on attack. This is the enemy’s plan to get you right where he wants you.
My friend, don’t be deceived. You will not have a good relationship with God or others while holding onto bitterness.
So how do you get rid of the root of bitterness?
1. Forgive. You have got to forgive this person and release them into God’s hands. No, it’s not saying that what they did was ok or that you even have to be in relationship with them. But it does say “God, I trust you to work this out according to your sovereign will.” It says, “God, you have forgiven me of so much and I am going to leave this in your hands and move on with my life.”
You have to be willing to set it down (Ephesians 4:31). If you feel justified in keeping it, it will only grow. If you let everyone know what this person has done, trying to convince them that this person is bad, that is a manifestation of bitterness.
2. Pray. Pray for that person(s) who has hurt you. There’s more power in your prayer than your punishment. And as you pray, watch your heart soften towards that person. No, the relationship may not be restored, but your heart condition will shift from cold and cancerous to receptive and responsive.
Just be careful however of any unhealthy expectations. If you’re the type to get upset because you prayed Tuesday and it’s now Thursday and nothing’s changed, then it’s likely that the issue lies more with God needing to do some work in your heart.
3. Trust. You serve a God you can trust. You serve a God that can and will heal your wounds, if you let Him. You serve a God that can change the heart of that person.
It can help to remember that these things may not make sense in our lifetime but we can trust in the words of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
So while you’re waiting, hang on to Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
If we serve a mighty God that will be exalted in all the earth, He will certainly be exalted in your circumstance.
Bitterness is a blockage. It will keep you from receiving forgiveness and releasing forgiveness. It’s time to let it go and release it into His hands.
Remember, forgiveness can be given but trust must be earned. There are some people that you may need to disconnect from. But that never justifies holding onto the demonic work of bitterness.
If you’d like to know the 3 traps that keep you stuck in bondage…check out this episode
If you are ready to learn how to strategically and powerfully overtake the forces of darkness so that you can live the life God intended for you, then check out my online course, Delivered from Demonic Influence.