Last week I wrote about God’s taking away from a believer so that He can replace old things with new things. In counseling, I discovered that the idea of taking away old ways of thinking and responding is huge for anyone who is searching for freedom. On of the things in my life that I had to overcome and take away was the enormous number of negative thoughts that constantly filled my brain. My counselor encouraged me to write down those negative thoughts and then to deal with them one by one.
I found that my thoughts were bitter, angry, fearful, and condemning. Only through God’s grace was I able to start taking these thoughts away from my life. In particular, I had bitter feelings toward some people who were very close to me, and those bitter feelings began to hurt my life. At one time, I actually wanted those people to hurt, to feel pain, not to have good things in their lives, and for bad things to happen to them. I was so far from what God commands us to be toward others.
Hebrews 12:14-15 puts it this way: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 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” (NAS). As I read my journal, I realized how bitterness was beginning to dominate my life. I did not want the best for these individuals; instead, I wanted them to be in pain just as I was in pain. I knew that eventually, if I continued down this path, I would start acting out that bitterness and defile others, as Hebrews says.
So, as God began to take away my bitterness toward certain people, what did He give me instead? For one person, God gave me compassion and love. I had to believe that God loves this person more than I ever could and that He can take care of her. It was very hard, but I prayed daily for the strength to love that person as I should.
For another person, God gave forgiveness. I had to forgive the hurt that this person had inflicted upon my family. I wrote a letter of forgiveness and dated it so that Satan could no longer taunt me. The letter was not meant to be sent, but it was meant for me to release that person.
For another, God helped me set some boundaries. Because I had been abused as a child, I had often allowed people to run over me and dominate me. I had no power to make my own decisions, no real control over my own life. But, with God’s help, I began to set boundaries so that I could find freedom as a whole person.
Looking back, I can now see how God’s taking away changed my own inner life. I now have more love and compassion. I am able to forgive, and to set those boundaries that I need to function. If I had not gone through this horrible time in my life–the time of all God’s taking-aways–I would not have grown in these areas. I would have only continued in my bitterness and ruined my life as well as the lives of those around me.
My questions for you are these: Are you holding bitterness in your life? Are you bitter toward God for the life He has handed you? Are there people in your life who have harmed you, for whom you only want bad things? What about your abuser? Can you let go of your bitterness toward that person? Please allow God to help you with your bitterness. Working on the issue of bitterness is hard, but here is a promise for you to hold on to. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness; (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NAS).
God’s grace is sufficient as you let go of the bitterness you are holding in your heart. It will not be an easy taking-away, but it is a matter of choice. I have been so weak but God promised that, if I cry out to Him in this weakness, He will honor my plea and help me. So, give it up! Give up your bitterness, for, instead, there are love and compassion, forgiveness and freedom. Do not delay. Do it now. Get on your knees, give it up, and do it today.
Blessings – Lisa