Being Bitter and Dwelling In Hurt

hurtI’ll admit it, I’m bitter. I’m bitter and up until recently, I didn’t realize it. God has made me in his image and therefore wired me for relationships, even though he made me an introvert.  Relationships involve people. Relationships are messy. People disappoint, plans get changed, and the beat goes on. In the middle of the hurt, I’m tasked with guarding my heart, for it is the wellspring of life, (Proverbs 4:23). What does that even mean, to guard my heart? If my heart is my inner self that includes my thoughts, will, affections, and emotions, how do I protect it? Figuring out how to protect it, begins with understanding where my heart is prone to wander.

Too often, I find my heart wandering around in the dwelling and retelling: dwelling in past mistakes, and retelling how I was wronged. I don’t often realize how quickly this attitude creates a posture of distrust and cynicism. Not dealing with hurt and dwelling in bitterness only makes me hostile in my heart and paranoid in my thinking. Bitterness is one of those sins that blinds me from recognizing my own role and culpability. It causes withdrawal, it breeds contempt, and it’s rooted in my self-righteousness.

The world tells me I have a right to be bitter. It tells me to listen to my inner consciousness, to dwell on a childhood trauma, to understand my unmet emotional needs, or simply just blame the man, whoever that guy actually is? The gospel speaks about my bitterness in another way. It speaks about it in the context of freedom: freedom to live, walk, and abide in forgiveness.

The gospel gives me the cure. It reminds me that bitterness is like a blade meant for another, that eventually severs the hand that conceals it. It’s like taking a poison pill and hoping my enemy will die instead.

In the end, bitterness leads to death. It robs me of joy and maximizes my anguish, while my offender is wiser, nonetheless.  As I deal with my own bitterness wrapped up in my failures, hurts, disappointments, and struggles, I’m thankful that Jesus was the one severed on my behalf. He was the one who took the poisonous pill, so I didn’t have to. He was the one who freed me to forgive, because he has freely forgiven me. He is the one who takes my bitterness and turns it from mourning to joy. It’s through his blood stained hands that he reminds me of his resolve to guard my heart because he has taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 32:26).  In other words, I’ve been made new.  I’ve traded in the corruptible for the incorruptible.  I’ve given up the bitterness and am finding rest in the peace, peace that comes only through Jesus.  At the end of the day, I’m still dealing with it all, but little by little pride is being put aside and righteousness is prevailing.  At the end of the day, I’m resting in the good truth that Jesus is better than my resentment, he’s better than my entitlement, and most certainly Jesus is better than my bitterness.

When God Gives Me More Than I Can Handle…

His death had been expected for months, but it didn’t make it any easier. As she sat, watched, and waited she couldn’t help but think about the 54 years of her life spent next to her beloved father. In his final breath, the realization that she would never see her dad again became too much. Though they had seen this coming for sometime, it didn’t make it any easier. As he took his last breath in this life and breathed his first in the next, she began to crumble. The tears grew from a trickle to a flood and the emotions went from numbness to heartache. It was more than she could handle. 

God never said he wouldn’t give me more than I can handle…God always meets me in the middle of my mess so that His great power is displayed in my life.

As I back up from these experiences as a Pastor, and look into the lives of the people I walk beside, I’m always amazed at how God seems to meet many of them right in the middle of the mess, even if it is not seen or felt in the moment. Even in death, God is still good. The human experience is one frought with a mixed bag of feelings. There are certainly days of great joy, happiness, and contentment, but what about the others? What about the days where it all seems too much? In my early years, I found myself telling people that God would never give them more than they could handle. But as truth and experience won the day, I’ve found myself telling people just the opposite.  

This often quoted quip is meant to bring comfort and peace to the one on the receiving end of the tragedy, but is it true?  The Psalmist cried out in Psalms 121:1 and stated, “From where does my help come?…It comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  If God never gave me more than I can handle, then it would set me up in a position where I wouldn’t need God. The gospel teaches just the opposite. God never said he wouldn’t give me more than I can handle.  In fact, He regularly gives me more than I can handle, so I would ferociously push into the goodness of Jesus. For Jesus is infinitely better than my circumstances.  Whether it be in death, disillusionment, or dishonor, He is always better.  With a greater picture of the gospel, I’m forced to understand that God always meets me in the middle of my mess.  He does this so His great power is displayed in my life for He is the one who provides my help, and He is one who grants my rescue. 

After several minutes had passed, the daughter of the deceased father, began to take hold of something profound. That profoundness didn’t lie in her ability to manage the situation or even control her emotions. Rather, it rested in an eternal truth found only in the gospel.  That truth displayed itself in her desire and verbal testimony to use her dad’s death to show that God gives us more than we can handle, so we will push into Jesus. She followed the thought by saying, “That is what I want, to wear Jesus like a coat, to witness to His goodness to my family and friends even in death. ” That my friends is the gospel. That is a picture of God’s glory. Therefore, let us press in to Jesus when we are overwhelmed and let us let Him turn our mourning into joy and our sorrow into peace. 

Planned Parenthood Traffics in Body Parts

You have to see thiunborn_babies_295x200s incredibly disgusting video to believe it. A nation that tolerates this, will tolerate anything.  As Christians, we should speak out for human dignity.  These children who are torn apart have no names, but thankfully, God knows their names.  Let us cry out and plead for justice on their behalf.

Mohler nails it again with his commentary:

Need a reminder you are not the center of the universe?  Watch this video.  Just simply incredible.  

NASA has released the largest picture ever taken, with more than 1.5 billion pixels. Fortunately, this video saves you the 4.3 GBs needed to download the single image of the Andromeda galaxy, created by combining 411 pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. As the space agency notes, it would take 600 HD monitors to view the entire thing. They’ve also released a browser-based tool that lets you easily zoom in on different parts of the image. It’s pretty mind blowing …(via relevant magazine)

An Open Letter to All the Open Letter Writers and Social Media Posters..

Below, is  a link to a blog post I wish I would have written.  Sadly, I’ve been guilty of many of the things it decries.  I’m grateful the Lord is rich in mercy and slow to anger.  I’m also grateful for the author’s solid understanding of what the church is, what it is supposed to be, and how I should treat, think, and speak of it.  In the end, the article is speaking mainly to the preferences we all have and how those get in way of relationships and becoming what God wants us to be.  We would all do well to pause, think, and contemplate the tender wisdom shared here.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Church, please watch this promotional video for this Wednesday night.  If you haven’t come to one of these nights, you are missing out.  We are praying and preparing for another night filled with God’s presence.  Hope to see you there.

<p><a href=”″>Night of Worship – Winter Promo!</a> from <a href=””>Ovilla Road Baptist Church</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>