Aug. 27, 2009
“I went out full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty….”
Ruth 1: 21
“How to Deal With Bitterness”
What Causes Bitterness? – Part II
“The world has been forced to its knees. Unhappily we seldom find our way there without being beaten to it by suffering.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
At times of bitterness in my own life, what suffering specifically “drove me to my knees?”
“A day of bliss is quickly told,
a thousand would not make us old
As one of sorrow doth –
It is by cares, by woes and
tears, we round the sum
of human years.”
Mrs. Sarah J. Hale
“We have lost so many leaves in loss, loss, loss—
Out of the sky,
What shall we do for
shelter to live by?”
For many years, my husband, Jim, and I lived in a small California coastal city where the change of seasons was not noticeable. It never snowed in the winter. Summer and spring blended into one another and became nine months of pleasant 70° weather. Rarely, did the leaves on trees turn amber or golden and fall to the ground.
This is why, living in the mountains has been so enjoyable for both of us. We now experience four distinct seasons. From spring to summer, the trees throughout the canyons that surround our small town begin to fill-out with beautiful leaves, giving our valley the most luscious green hue. But when fall arrives, it isn’t long before those once full and lush trees become nothing more than dried looking sticks as the leaves die and drop to the earth. What once appeared fruitful now becomes barren. Full turns into empty, as the cold winter chill blows through the air.
Born on the wings of barren emptiness, bitterness comes into our lives, rooted in the rocky soil of unmet expectations and shattered dreams. Loss and grief, followed by sorrow and loneliness, only serve to help germinate the seeds of bitterness, planted unsuspectingly at those times in our lives when we can least tolerate the harshness life delivers us.
When Naomi and Ruth entered the gate of Bethlehem and friends and family rushed to their side to welcome them back home, Naomi’s response to those who were rolling out the welcome mat was blunt. “I went out full, God brought me home empty.”
Naomi identified the problem of bitterness as a condition that took her from full to empty. What’s more, she blamed God for her troubles, which unfortunately seems to be a rather common occurrence when life crumbles around us.
We shouldn’t forget that God didn’t force Elimelech and his family to go to Moab. They were free moral agents who made adult decisions to leave their homeland and take off to Moab. And I don’t find anywhere in the book of Ruth where it says God was responsible for the death of Naomi’s husband and sons. Yet in Naomi’s heart, the cup of bitterness was handed to her by God. He got the blame. And sadly, very often, in our own times of discouragement and sorrow, when bitterness begins to drip its toxin into our lives, the first thing bitterness attacks and erodes is our faith in the very Person who can bring the relief we need and give us the hope we long for.
While Naomi may have felt empty when she returned to Bethlehem, little did she know God had a “fullness” planned for her which would exceed every expectation she’d ever had.
This is how God works. He is always looking out for His children. And when we feel the most empty, look out! We’re finally in the perfect position for God to fill us to overflowing.
“O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.”
Pain of the Wilderness
“Dragons lurk in the desert spaces
penetrating the mind with evil claw.
Serpents’ teeth seek out the chinks
insidiously, relentlessly gnawing on the bone;
searching out the interstices of muscle and sinew.
Such is the pain of the wilderness.
Alone, alone, alone,
in the waste place of abandoned pleas and
that in the end
there is only God.
In the nighttime of our fears,
and in our time of questioning.
Be present, ever present God.
Be present with those
camped out in the fields of hopelessness…
with those who live lives of quiet desperation.
Be present until the desert places
blossom like the rose
and hope is born again.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit:www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.