How long does it take for a seed to become a beautiful flower? How long does it take for an acorn to become a growing oak? How long does it take for a root of bitterness to overcome all senses? Not as long as you would think!!!
I spotted that root of bitterness in my own life last week. As many of you know, my husband and I have had a tough year. Six months of unemployment have left us under a serious financial burden. I've prayed. I've cried. I've poured my heart out to God time and time again, yet things seem to only get worse. My faith has gotten weak, and my fear has grown by leaps and bounds.
I've known that I am not the best at handling difficult situations. Jason just sits back and says, "God's in control. Everything will be fine." The thing is. . .he really means it. When I say that, what I'm really thinking is Yes, God is in control, but He obviously needs my help on this one. What can I do to make this work? My prayer day after day is "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." I want to trust Him. I just can't seem to let go. I can't seem to hand the reins over to Him. So, when things don't work out, I get frustrated. Lately, I've noticed my frustration turning to anger towards God. Like the disciples on the stormy seas, I've found myself shouting to the heavens, "God, don't you even care what's happening down here?"
I had no idea how deep my root of bitterness had grown until last Wednesday. We were sitting in the hospital waiting room during little Kristen's surgery. Our pastor was telling us of a huge financial blessing he and his family had just received. Instead of being happy for them, I found myself thinking, Lord, why won't you do that for us? We're good people. We're serving you. We give when we don't have it to give. What more do you want? (The truth is that something very similar has happened to us multiple times. The Lord has given us unexpected blessings more than once, but it's hard to remember that in the middle of a pity party.) I'm happy to say that I immediately recognized my thought pattern for what it was and dismissed it. I apologized to the Lord and went on about my day.
Unfortunately, even though it had been dismissed, the root didn't go away. It stayed in my heart and continued to grow. For the next few days, I found myself mad at the world and God. I honestly don't think I've ever been so low spiritually. I told Jason, "I understand now how people can turn their backs on God because it sure does seem like He's turned His back on me." I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of mouth. What was even harder to believe was that I meant them. The Lord used Jason to straighten me out. He forced me to take a look at my life and to see the real problem. I knew what the problem was. I just didn't want to admit it. I have NOT been trusting God. I've been planning and scheming and doing everything I could think of to "help God out." The big problem with that is that I've been so busy "helping God" that I've forsaken my writing, the very thing He has called me to do. In essence, I felt God telling me, "If you'll do your part, I'll do my part." It seems so simple. Why was it so hard for me to get to that point? Bitterness!
I read once that bitterness is like drinking a poison and then waiting for the other person to die. That's an excellent description of bitterness! Beware, the root of bitterness can slip in without notice. Before long, you're dealing with an entire tree! We must be on guard. Bitterness can ruin our lives and our walk with God.