Summary: Bitterness is one of the soul poisons that prevent us from living a healthy life.
I want to thank Nick and Liz Corona for sharing their story with us. More than anything else, I want you to know that your past hurts do not have to control your future. If we believe anything about the Lord—we believe that he can give us hope for the future. And this includes becoming free from bitterness…like Nick and Liz experienced. Bitterness is a poison that can creep into any one of us…if we’re not careful.
About three years ago my mother-in-law passed away and we held her memorial service right here at Summit. Carolyn was loved by many and the service was a special experience. Her life was celebrated and God was honored. As far as any of us knew the events surrounding the memorial service went perfectly. As far as any of us knew the family was blessed and everyone went back home quite satisfied that Carolyn was honored in a beautiful and appropriate way.
But unfortunately something had happened that no one was aware of. And it didn’t come to light until several weeks ago. In late November Pam’s sister was in San Diego and decided to stop by and visit Carolyn’s last remaining brother. She had not seen her uncle since the memorial service. And since she was in the area she decided to stop in for a surprise visit. However, when Pam’s sister rang the doorbell, her uncle opened the door and when he saw who it was he said matter-of-factly, “You’re not welcome her.” And then he closed the door.
Pam’s sister, of course, was mortified and wondered what in the world was going on. So she called her cousin, explained what happened and then asked if she had any idea what might have caused such an unexpected reaction. That’s when Pam’s sister found out for the first time that apparently something happened at Carolyn’s memorial service three years ago that deeply offended her uncle…something that no one else knew about…but the offense took root in her uncle’s heart and provoked him to cut off all communication with the extended family. Yet what happened at his door in November was the first time anyone knew there was a problem.
But when Pam’s sisters talked about it, it dawned on them that this would explain why all their emails to their uncle had gone unanswered and why they no longer saw any of his posts on Facebook. The uncle never explained what he was doing…he just cut off all communication with no explanation.
Now, that kind of situation happens all too frequently among families and friends. And it usually can be traced back to a root of bitterness. Bitterness is like a cancer that can eat away at our soul. I’ve seen this happen with marriages. I’ve seen it happen with kids toward their parents. Once someone told me they had such deep bitterness toward their former employer, they would kill them if they had the chance. And I had no doubt they would do it if they could.
Bitterness is one of the soul poisons that prevent us from living a healthy life. This is the third week in our series called Soul Detox. Through this series we want to provide practical ways to rid ourselves of the toxins that poison our soul. Our goal is to help all of us to live with joy and abundance. My prayer has been that God would use this series so we can be freed from bondages that keep us from experiencing a full and robust life. Jesus says: “…I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John (10:10)
God wants us to live an extraordinary life! But to experience this we need to be set free from the bondages that keep us from living life to the fullest. And one of the most insidious soul poisons is bitterness. Ephesians 5:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness…” God knows how destructive bitterness can be and that’s why he tells us to get rid of it.
Now, we find a clear illustration of bitterness in the OT book of Ruth. The book of Ruth tells about a woman named Naomi who moved from Israel to Moab with her husband and two sons. But her husband died and then over the next ten years both her sons also died. Then Naomi leaves Moab and returns to Israel. In Ruth 1:20 she says, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Mara (which means bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
From this text we learn that Naomi was bitter toward God. She felt God had taken away her husband and both of her sons. Naomi blamed God for those things. If you read Ruth chapter 1 you can see that Naomi blames God for her bitterness five different times.