Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Hebrews 12:12-17
Bitterness is one of those emotions that rob us of our joy. We get bitter when we focus on what we do not have or what happened to us in the past rather that enjoy what we do have and celebrate the good things that have happened to us. Bitterness eats away at you from the inside as you dwell on the bad to the point that the good gets over shadowed.
I have experienced how bitterness affects a parson and a family firsthand. My Dad struggled with bitterness his whole life. Many would say with good reason. His father deserted the family when my dad was an infant leaving a single mom to raise a son in the early 1930’s. This was a time when divorce was not widely accepted but it was also a time when many men deserted their families. As a result my dad never knew his father. Years later he would find that his father had lived within a few miles of where my Dad had lived his whole life. The when my Dad was in the navy in the late 40’s he received word that his mother was seriously ill. She died a few years later. So yes, my Dad had a lot to be bitter about.
However, in 1950 my Dad married my Mom and they remained married for just over 47 years ending only with my Dad’s death in 1997. They had four boys of which I am the oldest. We were not rich but as far as I knew growing up we never lacked for anything. Maybe we never had the newest car of the best toys but we never went hungry, always had a roof over our heads and had more than enough toys to play with. My Dad lived to see all four of us married and to see eight of the eventual ten grandchildren. None of us was ever seriously ill so I guess you can say we were blessed as a family. I certainly think so.
So, there is my Dad with tragedy in his life but also a lot of good also, a wife, sons, daughters-in-laws and grandchildren. The tragedy was he could not get past the bad. It colored how he viewed the world and he many times obsessed so much that he would forget the joy. Forgetting the joy mad for some bad times in our home.
One of the great gifts we receive from God is joy. Even in the darkest times we can cling to the joy we have in the Lord. That joy will get us through the rough patches in life. It will do that only if we do not let the joy become eclipsed by bitterness. I do not know what tragedies you have had in your life. I do not know how hard you had it growing up or how hard you have it today. I do know that God has showered blessings on you. How do I know that, because I know God I know how much He loved you? What you need to do, what we all need to do, is to not let the bad things the world throws our way ever rob us of the joy God gives us. Life is hard but it is intolerable without joy.
Have a blessed day,