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Better or Bitter? You Get to Choose - Girlfriends in God - November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013
Better or Bitter? You Get to Choose
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

“Don’t call me Naomi [which means pleasant],” she told them. “Call me Mara [which means bitter], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter” (Ruth 1:20 NIV).

Friend to Friend

I love the story of Ruth and Naomi. The name Ruth means “woman friend,” and we can learn about how to be a great friend by her example. And we can also learn a lot from Naomi, but not necessarily in a good way.          
In a ten-year period, Naomi lost her husband and her two sons. She blamed God for her afflictions, and in one sense, she was correct. God is sovereign and in control of every aspect of our lives.

However, He was not “out to get her.” His hand was not “against her” as she claimed. Naomi became very bitter about what had happened to her, so much so that she changed her name to Mara, which means bitter. God never desires for us to become bitter, but longs to use the difficulties of our lives to make us better.

In Jesus’ last words to His disciples, He compared their relationship to Him to that of a vine and its branches. He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off [lifts up out of the dust] every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2 NIV).

When we experience a loss, it can feel like God’s giant gardening shears have lopped off part of our lives that seems vital to our existence. However, His desire is for us to bear as much fruit as possible, not become stunted by bitterness. Bruce Wilkerson, in his book Secrets of the Vine, notes, “God isn’t trying to just take away; He’s faithfully at work to make room to add strength, productivity, and spiritual power in your life. His goal is to bring you closer to the ‘perfect and complete’ image of Christ.”

He goes on to say, “Not every painful experience is the result of pruning. Is your heart breaking because your teenager is experimenting with drugs and sex? God did not cause your son to do these things in order to prune you. Are you suddenly facing a future with diabetes or cancer? God isn’t purposefully constraining your life just to see how you’ll react. Yet every trial you face is an opportunity to let Him work in your life for abundance. If you invite Him into your circumstances, He will keep His promise to work everything together for your good (Romans 8:28).”

Have you noticed the only difference between the words bitter and better is the letter i? When we stop focusing on the not-so-mighty “me, myself, and I,” and start focusing on the almighty God, then we will begin to see our difficulties through the lens of God’s perfect and perfecting plan. If He prunes away a dream, it is only because He has a greater dream in store that will produce more and better fruit.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, please forgive me for allowing bitterness to creep into my heart when life hasn’t turned out like I thought it would. I pray You will use every disappointment in my life for good. Show me how to use my struggles to make me better, and not allow my difficulties to make me bitter. I know I have a choice. Help me choose the right one.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Read the book of Ruth and discover how God turned Naomi’s bitterness into joy. It’s only four chapters and I can promise you will be blessed!

What do you find amazing in Ruth 2:3. Some translations say, “It just so happened.” Another says, “As it turned out.” Oh friend, “It just so happened,” never happens in God’s sovereignty. God so happened!

If you will determine to not allow your circumstances to make you bitter, but pray that God will use them to make you better, click over to my Facebook page and say, “I refuse to be bitter. I am determined to be better!”

Want More?

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like we expected, and sometimes those twists and turns can leave scars in our lives. So what are we going to do about it? I suggest turning that pain into purpose, that hurt into hope, and that mess into a ministry opportunity. Are you ready to do that? Is so, my book, Your Scars are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past Can Help. Click on the title to read a sample chapter. And while you are on my site, make sure and sign up for my blog packed with more encouragement and inspiration.

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