6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Letting go of bitterness

Bitter to Better part 2

[2] Last week we started talking about how to go from bitter to better. If bitterness has crept into your life, there is a way to alleviate the pain. There is a way to get better.

Last week we focused on what to do when another person has caused the pain and bitterness in your life. We learned from Ephesians 4:31-32 that the way to go from bitter to better was through kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

[3] The Bible says to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

So the key to letting loose of bitterness caused by others is to actually shows those others kindness, compassion and forgiveness – just like Christ has for us.

[4] But what about the trials of life that test us? How do you show kindness and compassion towards a chronic sickness or disease? How do you forgive a freak accident that’s devastated your life? How do you deal with life’s trials that cause you pain and bitterness?

For some people, when life deals them a tough hand, they do all the wrong things to try and cope with the circumstances.

Some people self-medicate through drugs and alcohol. If you stay drunk then you won’t have to think about the toughness of life. (Even though nothing has really changed.)

Some people try and distract themselves from trials through things and people that’ll give them pleasure. Things that’ll make them feel good. (Even though those feelings will eventually wear off.)

Some people, just end up bitter at life and live that way way too long.

But there is hope and there is help to go from bitter to better when life is trying to drag you down. And it all starts with our: [5]

I. Attitude towards trials

[Read James 1:2.]

Wait a minute now, considerate it joy when trial come? That’s a little sadistic isn’t it? I mean, who gets happy when life slaps you across the face with tough times. I mean, there’s no section of greeting cards that read, “Congratulations on your new calamity!” There’s a lot of things that bring me joy, but trials aren’t even in my top ten.

Some of the things that bring me joy are walk on the beach with my beautiful wife, playing with my children, the Dallas Cowboys winning the Super Bowl in 2008. Those are the types of things that bring people joy.

But trials…those just seem to bring pain…and pain not dealt with correctly leads to bitterness.

Trials are those things in life that usually come out of nowhere, have little or no explanation, and are hard and hurtful experiences. Trials come in the form of the death of a loved one, accidents, disease, and unforeseen events that make life difficult.

The Greek word used in verse two for our English word trial is “pirasmos” which means putting to proof by experience. Putting to proof by experience. Isn’t that interesting. So what’s being proved by our difficult experiences? Our faith. Our faith if being proved.

Someone once asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."

And that’s so true isn’t it? If anyone is equipped to handle the toughness of life it’s God’s children. It’s all in the way you handle it. So the first part of handling a trial is our attitude towards trials themselves. Let’s read verse two again.

[Read James 1:2.]

The verse gives us the impression that James is talking about our attitude once we find ourselves in the midst of a trial. It reads, “whenever you face trials” which means when you are looking a specific trial right square in the eyes. He doesn’t expect us to sit around and hope a trial comes or sit around and think about how wonderful trials are. But he does ask us to be joyful even when we find ourselves in the midst of a tough circumstance.

You know why we should have joy or inner peace when we find ourselves in the midst of a trial. Because we know that there’s an advantage for going through a trial. Because we know that we can go to the Lord for assistance with the trial. Because we know that some day there will be no more trials. First let’s look at the: [6]

II. Advantage of trials

[Read James 1:2-4.]

James isn’t giving anyone new information or revelation here. He starts out by saying, “because you know”. In other words, we have all been through tough times. So you know that trials help a person mature and grow. This is just a timely reminder and encouragement of the truth that we all already know.

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