Bitterness has a certain ability to take root in the depths of our beings. When we have experienced woundedness in our lives (and we all have), often we allow that woundedness to cause us to be bitter and it seeps into other areas of our lives. Bitterness can keep us from being overcomers in Christ Jesus.
I have experienced in my own life things that have caused trauma and disruption. I have allowed it to affect many places — relationships, experiences, and peace. There have been times when it has kept me from getting involved in ministry, as I should. Too often, I’ve allowed it to hedge a barrier around my heart so that I would not be wounded again. This is not how we are intended to live as followers of Christ.
When Joseph was left for dead and then sold into slavery by his brothers, he proclaimed to them years after serving in Pharoah’s court in Egypt:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:20
However, he did not say this to them in a vacuum — he said it after he had been mistreated, accused of rape, imprisoned for that false accusation, and seeing his brothers again. Before he could even reveal himself to them and upon seeing his favored brother, Benjamin, we are told that:
“Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.” Genesis 43:30
Joseph most assuredly missed his family — he had been treated horribly by others and his brothers and in Pharoah’s court, but he didn’t allow bitterness to take root in his soul. After he wept, the Scripture tells us that:
“Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.” So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians. Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment. He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.” Genesis 43:31-34
Imagine inviting the person or persons who have caused you great distress and woundedness to come and dine with you in your home! Beloved, only God can work such an invitation and response. The change is wrought by Him and He only; for to take on the image of our Father, requires Him to change us — He is the one who is loving and merciful and gracious, and when we mirror those attributes of God, we can forgive! However, not just forgiveness, but restoration.
This is what Christ has done for us! He has taken our sin upon Himself, forgiven us when we repent and restored us to a right relationship with the Father. Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross — because Jesus has forgiven me and restored me — I can forgive and should!
I pray that you can find healing with the balm of forgiveness and root out the bitterness you may be harboring in your heart. It is possible, but only through Christ Jesus!