Have you noticed bitterness creeping into your heart lately? That feeling of anger or hurt that comes from a bad experience or a sense of unjust treatment. I know I felt it more these days with all the turmoil in our country. The never-ending pandemic, the lock-downs, and the election all leave me frustrated, and there is nothing I can do to fix the situation. And, as the virus threatens to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to scream at the unfairness of it all.
Soon, those bitter feelings enter my heart. I question God, and I demand my life return to normal. Add in a foot stomp or two, and I act like a child throwing a temper tantrum. My bitterness leaves me feeling alone and forgotten in my misery. After a period of wallowing, I turn back to God. I know He will never leave me or forsake me even amid my meltdown. But, what can we do to fight the feelings of bitterness?
The Bible tells us about fighting against bitter feelings. Here are a few examples:
- Hebrews 12:15; “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.”
- Ephesians 4: 31-32; “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
- Isaiah 38:17; “Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
All these verses remind us to not allow such feelings to settle into our hearts and souls. But what can we do to keep that from happening?
How to Fight Bitter Feelings
Going back to the Bible, I think we can find stories of those who go through the kind of trails we are in now. By examining them, maybe we can get an idea of the best way to fight off any bitter feelings that linger within our hearts. We can find one such story in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament.My bitterness leaves me feeling alone and forgotten in my misery. After a period of wallowing, I turn back to God. Click To Tweet
In the pages of Ruth, we find the story of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. Naomi is uprooted from her homeland due to a severe famine, so they settle in Moab, and life seems to return to normal. Her sons marry, and she finds peace. But then another disaster strikes, and Naomi’s husband and sons die.
The Story of Naomi
After some time, Naomi returns to her homeland. As she meets old friends, she tells them to call her Mara, or bitter in Ruth 1:20; “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” I certainly can understand her feelings after so much loss. Thankfully that is not the end of her story.
Naomi still seeks God during her trials. She confesses her bitterness to God and then keeps trying to make sense of it all. Soon, her faithfulness is rewarded when she gains a new son through Ruth. And Ruth bears a child that Ruth helps to raise as her own grandchild called Obed. Obed became the grandfather of David and the great, great, great, … grandfather of Jesus. Naomi thought her life was over, but God used her as part of the lineage of Jesus.
Lessons to Fight Bitter Feelings
Through this story of Naomi, we find three lessons to help us deal with our own bitterness:
- God is still with us during our hardships. He is with us during this pandemic. He continues to work for our good even when we cannot see it.
- Continue to see Jesus daily. When we feel bitterness in our hearts, confess it to God. He understands what we are going through. Seek Him and ask Him to help you with the feelings.
- God redeems the lost. So many have lost so much during this pandemic. We can feel lost ourselves. But God will save us from these times. He has something better planned for each of us. We might not see the benefits in this world, but we will see them when we reach the heavenly shores.
Bible Verses to Help Us
Here are some Bible verses to remind us of the promises God gives us. Use them to combat the bitterness in our lives:
- Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Proverbs 3; “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- 2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- Proverbs 16:4; “The LORD works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
- Hebrews 10:36; “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
God restored Naomi to her original name, which means pleasantness. He took away her bitterness and gave her joy once again. He can do the same for us too.
Dearest Jesus. I confess that feelings of bitterness are taking root within my heart these days. This year has come with so many difficulties that overwhelm me. Forgive me for not seeking You first. Help me to find joy once again. Thank you for never giving up on me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen
Wishing you and your family a Blessed Thanksgiving.
Yvonne M. Morgan, author, blogger, and speaker.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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32 thoughts on “Call Me Bitter”
Thank you for these reminders and for drawing such a good analogy to Naomi.
Yes, the current situation can easily engender feelings of bitterness if I’m not on my guard.
Thanks Ava. It is a trap we can all fall into if not on guard. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving
I’m thankful that times I am bitter, I can go to God and ask for His help to change. 🙂
Me too. It can make all the difference. Thanks Melissa and Happy Thanksgiving
These verses are helpful…. I can tell bitterness is creeping into my heart. Sharing 💜
Thanks Candice. I feel it at times too. Happy Thanksgiving.
I just read the book of Ruth today! So this story is fresh in my heart. We can certainly understand Naomi’s bitterness at the time, but thankfully God never gave up on her. May our hearts return to Him in times of frustration and loss. For even though we may hurt, He is our only hope.
God is the our only hope. Thanks Melissa and Happy Thanksgiving
Bitterness creeps in all too easily and it seems to compound as more and more things don’t go as we hope. I’m glad you addressed the pandemic because its effects are so real in our everyday lives. Thank you for drawing our attention to this sin and giving us Scripture to remind us to examine our hearts and that God is here with us.
Thanks Stephen. The pandemic has affected all of us and our faith. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless.
I can be guilty of bitterness, but I really don’t like feeling that way. It takes away my joy. Even in hardship, I”m grateful for the blessings God brings.
Me too. I think we can all suffer from bitterness. But the Lord can help us. Thanks Jessica and Happy Thanksgiving
You’re so right about bitterness making us feel alone. Great message in this disrupted day.
Thanks Nancy. It has a sneaky way of invading our lives. God is the answer. God bless
Great words of wisdom! Bitterness can come quickly and really does rob us of our joy. Love all of the scriptures too.
Bitterness is such an enemy to our faith. We must go to God with our feelings so He can help us overcome. Thanks Mary and God bless
Bitterness surely creeps up on us unawares at times, thanks for these tips on how to tackle it.
Thanks for visiting Betty. God bless
Thanks for pointing us to the Bible and the story if Naomi. These are sure steps to fight bitterness as we can’t fight bitterness by our own strength.
So true Kristie. Only God can help our battle against bitterness. He will help us. Thanks and God bless.
This is so good! I have to be careful how I process things to keep bitterness out of my soul. Thank you so much for this beautiful post!
Thanks for the comment Donna. I really do appreciate it. God bless.
Thank you so much for sharing this post, Yvonne! I have struggled with bitterness due to my chronic migraines. What I find helps me most is praying for others. However, the verses and thoughts you shared here are sure to help me in the future.
I am so sorry to hear of your struggles. I pray the Lord will provide relief for you. Thanks for commenting and God bless
Bitterness almost took root in my heart this year. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit and the Word counselled me and brought me to a place of health. You’re right: we need to “see Jesus daily”.
We do need to seek Him daily so our hearts remain in Him. I think this year we are all fighting bitterness. Thanks for commenting Summer and God bless.
I really needed to read this post tonight! I especially loved the Bible verses you shared to fight against bitterness. Thank you!
You are so very welcome. We all need help in times like these. God provides us with many wonderful words of wisdom in the Bible. Thanks Kari and God bless.
This is a great post warning about bitterness. I have been thinking about this a lot and also about how easy it is to be offended. I will work hard not to be let bitterness get a foothold and your list of bible verses will surely help me! I studied the book of Ruth recently and Naomi had a big impact on me. Thank you for your teaching on this subject!
Thanks Karen. Bitterness can creep in so easily if we don’t stay on guard. God bless.
I’m the fourth generation in my family with Naomi as a middle name. My oldest daughter is the fifth. While it means pleasantness, and I’m generally a pleasant person, I’ve also experienced the bitterness of a Mara at times. I am so very grateful for how the Lord worked mightily in my heart and life to free me of my own bitter thoughts and feelings. And how He continues to do so!! 🙌🏼 Blessings!
What a beautiful real life story to go along with a great name. With God’s help, we can fight bitterness. Thanks Teresa and God bless.