Isaiah 65:1-2 (NLT)
The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.”
In the aftermath of a hurtful event, when it’s time to choose whether we will cling to our bitterness or turn to God for relief and healing, why do we so often choose the dark path of bitterness? Why do we choose to stay so long in our hurt and anger when God stands ready to comfort us and lead us into peace beyond the pain?
It’s true that anger can give us the illusion of having power in a situation or relationship where we have felt victimized and vulnerable. Contrary to the old adage, however, time does not heal all wounds. Left to itself, an angry wound will only put down bitter roots and harden our hearts so we won’t be hurt in the same way ever again.
In the moment when we choose how to respond to wounding, we surrender to the sovereign rule of either the bitterness that will insulate us or the God who will heal us. If we choose to hide our wound in our resentment, we may feel less pain over time, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. The wound may lie dormant, like a damaged nerve under a capped tooth, ready to flare up the instant someone says or does something to crack open our defenses and expose us to the old pain. Once again, we must face the choice of recapping the wound or at last surrendering it to the healing grace of God.
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked this of a man who had been disabled for 38 years. He asks us the same question today: Do you want to be healed? Are you ready to trust me with your hurt and risk letting go of your angry defenses? When we are ready, our loving God stands ready to respond, ready to be found, with arms open and grace available to soothe and heal what we can never heal on our own.
FATHER, sometimes resentment comes so quickly and naturally to me that I don’t realize I have a choice. At those times when I am inclined to protect myself with bitterness and stubborn unforgiveness, remind me why your way is better. Give me a humble heart that wants to be healed and faith to see you despite the pain and anger that cloud my vision.
1 Chronicles 16:11; John 5:6
What words evoke instant anger and resentment in you? What might be the source of your overreaction?