We were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.
When people have hurt us deeply it is easy to hate and wish for vengeance. But holding tightly to these feelings can easily become a defect of character. The bitterness threatens our recovery because it causes us to blame others for our problems. It may scare us to think of forgiving those who have hurt us. We may be afraid that releasing our hatred will require us to condone the bad things people have done to us.
Jonah felt this way, too. He hated the people of Nineveh for their cruelty toward Israel. God told Jonah to go and warn them of the destruction planned for them. Instead, he tried to run away by boarding a ship going the opposite direction. The Lord caused a life-threatening storm, and Jonah ended up in the belly of a great fish. Suddenly, the Lord had Jonah's attention and Jonah reluctantly obeyed. Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, they changed their ways, and God put off his planned destruction. Jonah complained, "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? . . . I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people" (Jonah 4:2).
We won't be able to remove our bitterness alone. And it will never be easy to accept that God wants to rescue even the people we hate. We'll need to allow God to change our hearts as we work toward forgiving those who have hurt us. This will take time. God only asks that we be willing to let him begin the work.
We can only become bitter after we've forgotten how much God has forgiven us.