2 Samuel 6:16 (New International Version)
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
Bitterness often draws its energy from a love betrayed or a loyalty or trust that was abused. We may get annoyed or even angry at a stranger, but we rarely feel bitter. Bitterness takes hold of us in proportion to the depth of our passion—if we love deeply, our bitterness will be sharp and difficult to dislodge.
In the above passage Michal’s love for her husband David had soured into bitterness. The hero she had once admired and protected returned after many years with new wives and children, while she remained alone and childless. At the sight of him her heart hardened, and she despised him.
Bitterness serves us by putting up a wall around our unwanted feelings—sorrow, disappointment, humiliation, sometimes even our own guilt. It shields us from pain by focusing our attention on the one who hurt us. But bitterness can never heal a broken heart. In fact, bitterness works against our healing by keeping the wound fresh and our thoughts trapped in a vicious spiral of hopeless anger and hurt.
Our best chance for healing lies in shifting our attention from our wounded heart to the grace and tenderness of God. Bitterness loses some of its sting when we remember how deeply and steadfastly our heavenly Father loves and cares for us. He longs to remove that hurting, bitter heart and replace it with a heart like his, full of grace and tenderness and mercy.
FATHER, you know how trapped I sometimes feel by the injustice and hurt of someone else’s treatment of me. I can’t seem to get past my resentment over the unfairness of it all. But I know that wallowing in my anger and pain is not the life you want for me. Give me the desire and courage to put aside my bitter feelings. Teach me how to live upright and joyful despite how others may treat me. Help me to find peace in you despite unpleasant circumstances.
Ezekiel 11:19-20; Psalm 25:4-5
How do you think bitterness protects you?