Grow | Devotion #2: Growing Through Bitterness
Max Sinclair | Young Adult’s and Guest Services Director
Recently in my life, I have hit a wall. It was not a physical wall, although it may feel like it, but a wall nonetheless. I could feel a well of bitterness pooling in my life, a feeling that I did not wish to feel. I can pinpoint to exactly where it stemmed from: it was the fact that I was not getting poured into and growing in the Word. Now, this is not a call or cry for help but more of a call of concern to many others. I have found help, and I can now see that this bitterness was important for me to learn some lessons.
In our Christian walk, we must grow because that is how we reach others. It is a principle that we at The River Church keep to heart. Yet, the question that I ran into while going through this trying time was, “How do I keep growing in the Word when I am bitter, when I am angry, and when I feel that growing is useless and not important because others do not value my growth?” I turned to the book of Job.
The book of Job is nestled between Esther and Psalms, and it tells the story of a man who God saw as, “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8b). This man was blessed with many things, a healthy large family, a large estate, many servants, and was even said to be the greatest of all the people of the east. Yet one day, all of that was stripped from him when God and Satan made a wager. Satan was told by God to take all of his blessings away, with the condition that Satan could not kill Job. This was meant to prove that Job was a loyal and faithful servant. So, Satan took away his riches and his children, destroyed his house, and killed his servants. Job was torn, broken, destroyed, and beaten. Honestly, I know of no adjective to describe his pain. In his grief, Job wrenched his clothes off, shaved his head, and began to call out to God, but Job 1:22 says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” When I read that I was blown away. Here is this man, who had everything taken from him and had every right to curse God, and say, “Why did you do this to me?” Job had every reason to stop worshipping the Lord, yet instead of cursing Him, he cursed the day that he was born. He cursed his life and that if he had never been brought into the world, none of this suffering would have happened to him. Through conversations with friends, and then concealed in a whirlwind, the Lord confronted Job’s anger and bitterness.
In our own lives, we run into bitterness. Some experience it to the extreme of Job and others to the not so extreme. Yet, we all cry out to God seeking to understand why the world is not fair or just. This bitterness can define us and ruin our relationship with God. So how do we move forward? How did Job move forward? In the Bible, God met Job in his bitterness and taught Job that God alone is God, not Job. Through some heavy Hebrew poetry, God told Job that He is the Creator of all, that what God had done and what God was doing was not for Job to command. With that, we grow through our bitterness by being reminded that God is God and that we are not. We grow when we put ourselves last and begin to see the world and all of creation as that which belongs to God. At the end of the book (Job 42:2-6), Job replies to God and says:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job denied himself, became humble, and put away his bitterness to see the glory that is God. He saw the majesty of God and His complexities and recognized that all is as God wills it. We cannot change the Lord’s will, but we can adapt to His will and learn that our bitterness is a self-justified grumble of pride that we need to come to comprehend. Our lives are not our own, and sometimes everything needs to be taken away for us to see and understand that.
I pray that this devotion motivates you to believe that God has a plan. In our lives, we forget to see that God is the “Author and finisher of our faith.” He is in control, and when our pride dictates our actions to put ourselves first, we begin to feel bitter about the things of God. Only through realizing that God has a plan and that we need to live within that plan and not our own, do we get to grow through our bitterness.