Sketching Close to God Amid Sour Circumstances
This week the blog is sponsored by Baker Books and is adapted from Stephen Viars’ new book Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life’s Finest Hurts to a Life Full of Joy.
D o you have any bitterness in your life? As a pastor attempting to shepherd our church family by way of a worldwide pandemic, I have had a front-row seat to many tales of sadness, heartache, and disappointment. It has been difficult to view my brothers and sisters suffer, together with many other members of our local community.
Personally, I use struggled to properly handle authorities lockdowns, budgetary pressure, plus a variety of competing positions within our congregation about masks, vaccines, and appropriate ways to ressortchef (umgangssprachlich) in these uncharted waters. How exactly does our sovereign God would like us to respond to such challenges?
All of us certainly do not have to back away quietly as if our faith is definitely incapable of facing such facts. In Scripture God frequently uses the word bitter to describe the experiences of their children. We are told that will Joseph endured bitter attacks from his brothers (Genesis 49: 22-26), that the Egyptians made the Hebrew’s life bitter with hard labour (Exodus 1: 13-14), and that Hannah was provoked bitterly by her mean-spirited competitor (1 Sam. 1: 6).
However , we all do not have to give bitter situations the final say. Wise Solomon warned us that “the heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14: 10). Within the power of Christ, we can learn to process these episodes of suffering in our hearts in ways that moves all of us toward the Lord in higher dependence and faith.
This often begins by following the example organized in the psalms of lament. To be honest, speaking to the Lord in this particular fashion does not come naturally for me because I dread displeasing the Lord by sinfully complaining. But ignoring pain and disappointment becomes such as silt in a river exactly where my relationship with Christ becomes less vibrant and free-flowing.
Talking authentically to the Lord is much like dredging up the silt. It communicates that we believe we are able to trust our sympathetic Messiah with our deepest feelings and questions. Doing so often allows God’s people to think a lot more carefully about the desires plus thoughts of our hearts that have become out of tune with God’s divine purposes. As a result leads to repentance and a level deeper sense of joy and satisfaction in his abundant grace. The beauty is that sour circumstances prepare our hearts for a fresh taste of the sweetness of our Savior.
Perhaps that is why The almighty organized the Passover meal to purposely include bitter herbs, a kind of lettuce native to Egypt. He desired them to be reminded from the hardness they faced during that period of cruel enslavement. These were literally to taste this and heartache of that experience.
But then emerged the sweetness of the lamb, their God-given source of solution. Precious blood had to be shed to cover their sin. Imagine the explosion of preferences in the worshippers’ mouths as they joyfully contemplated a kind of grace and compassion that changed their bitter circumstances.
Followers of Jesus know the ultimate Hero of this story. When you next encounter disappointment and loss, tend not to ignore or run from the sadness and hurt. Rather, let the pain draw you into closer communion with all the One who died so you could know him fully.
Overcoming Aggression: Moving from Life’s Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled up with Joy is available now wherever good books are sold.