Everyone gets hurt.
It can start early, with a parent, a friend, an enemy. It could be a classmate, a colleague, or an associate. We live in a fallen world, and one of the most devastating parts of our sinfulness is that we hurt each other, by things we say and things we do.
Or, it could be a circumstance or tragedy that has hurt you. You may have misunderstood its intent, failing to see God’s sovereign hand above it all.
It could be the loving discipline of the Lord, sent to train and develop you.
If we fail to understand God’s purposes in our training, we can become angry and hurt. And hurt internalized and held onto becomes bitterness.
Bitterness is a corruption in my spirit which comes from my failure to thank God for every person and circumstance He allows in my life. And bitterness in my soul is a horrible disease.
A Warning from Hebrews
The author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us not to hold onto hurt:
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15 NASB).
Bitterness will always . . .
- SPRING UP: You can’t hide harbored hurt. It will always manifest itself.
- CAUSE TROUBLE: When we are hurt, we build strategies so we don’t get hurt again. If we continue these, they become part of our character, of who we are. Anger, insecurity, fear, lack of faith in God, unbelief, criticism, gossip, cynicism … the list goes on. All of these are symptoms of the root of bitterness.
- DEFILE MANY: Our bitterness always affects others. Not only will it hurt them, but it can lead to the same root of bitterness developing in their lives.
The only remedy for this vicious cycle is the grace of God. When we are under difficulty or hardship, we must cry out to Him and thank Him.
Responding to our circumstances and the people who hurt us with humility and forgiveness unleashes the grace of God, because God is opposed to the proud (He actually resists proud people!), BUT He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Instead of harboring hurt, we can learn and grow and become better, not bitter. By God’s grace, no person or circumstance can ultimately hurt us; everything will be used to develop Christlikeness in our lives if we make the choice to see things from God’s perspective and respond as He instructs.
If you look closely, there are probably some broken places in your heart where you have never accepted God’s sovereign working and thanked Him for it. There are people you still need to forgive and release from your courtroom (where you are judge, jury, and executioner) to God’s courtroom.
As you do, you will discover that nothing can really hurt the true, forgiving believer, because our God “causes all things to work together for good” to conform us to the image of His Son!
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. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.