Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. (Psalm 73:21 NLT)
Has your heart ever been bitter?
It is so easy to allow bitterness to hold a death grip on our life; when our life doesn’t turn out like we think it should, when we see other people receiving accolades that we feel are due to us and not them, when God seems distant in our greatest time of need, when friends let us down, when evil people are seemingly blessed and those whole heartedly following God are punished.
I confess I have struggled with bitterness at various times in my life. I can recall one of those times very clearly . . .
My friend and I had a friendship but it wasn’t always easy. She always seemed to hold something back. We would be traveling along pretty smoothly in our relationship and then all of a sudden it was as if I ran smack into a wall – too high to climb too wide to go around. It was disheartening and I found myself often questioning why we were friends. Then time and differences took us a part . . .
A couple of years later God brought us back together and I wondered if the relationship would be the same. For a while it seemed different, she was openly sharing some really difficult struggles. These struggles were pretty huge and I began fasting and praying weekly for her. Then slowly our relationship began to erode and we went our separate ways.
A short time later the tables were turned and I now found myself in a series of difficult situations but she was nowhere to be seen. I was hurt. I had been there for her why wasn’t she there for me? And if that wasn’t enough, I began to see God’s blessing poured out in her life and the hurt burrowed deep into my heart.
I drank the poison, allowing bitterness to do its insidious work in my life. It colored everything; my circumstances, my relationship with God, my relationship with my family and friends. I could feel myself pulling inward in self protection mode. I knew it wasn’t healthy but had no power within me to stop. I became judgmental and jaded.
But God never let go of me during this time. He never gave up on me.
Look at what the writer of Psalm 73 says as he continues his conversation with God. . .
I was so foolish and ignorant – I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:23-26 NLT)
Yet I still belong to You . . . even in the midst of my bitterness I still belonged to God. He didn’t give up on me or let me go! And He doesn’t give up on you or let you go either! He is ours forever!
That difficult time allowed me to see God in a way I had never seen Him before and it showed me how easily I can lose my way and turn my heart away from the One who loves me the most.
That friendship has never been restored but God has taught me to pray for blessing in her life and through that He has set me free from the bitterness that so long ensnared me and kept me from truly growing in my walk with Him. With all my heart I echo the words of the Psalmist. . .
Whom have I in heaven but YOU? I desire YOU more than anything on earth! My spirit may grow weak but God remains the STRENGTH of my heart; He is mine FOREVER! (Psalm 73:25-26 NLT)
Thank you Lord, for never letting go . . .