How to Fight Roots of Bitterness and Resentment
By Jordan Sparnroft
I have found it easier to choose resentment over gratitude when I’m walking through darkness. Resentment masks itself as comforting blanket in a dark and scary room. However, resentment only deceives and further suffocates.
I have resented everything and everyone: from the person who wronged me, my situation, myself, and God. In my resentment, I’ve hurt the people who were trying to help me. I’ve walked away from God and the results were even more darkness. Isn’t that exactly what Satan wants for us? To isolate us from God and His people, to separate us from love, and to drown us in hate. I don’t want that for you or for me. Neither does God. The path to light is narrow but it can be found. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Both Philippians 4 and 1 Peter 1 tell us to rejoice in our suffering. David spends the majority of the Psalms lamenting to God yet rejoicing and remembering both God and His character. I recently learned that there is a difference in rejoicing and being "thankful." Rejoicing means to celebrate the character of God. Being thankful means to praise God for all the blessings He has given you. God calls us to do both.
Hebrews 12:3 tells us to “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Consider Him. Jesus deserved to be bitter and resentful. His circumstances were unjust. He is King yet he was homeless and wrongfully accused, all culminating in suffering and dying a death He didn’t deserve. He knows the temptation of being bitter; go to Him. His grace comes in the form of His word, His creation, His people. We consider him by meditating on what He endured for us, we praise Him for Who He is, we google verses about God’s character and apply His character to our suffering.
If resentment has settled into our hearts, we also need to examine what and who is feeding our feelings of resentment and seek the people and things that help us focus on God and to dwell on the praiseworthy.
Do you have friends who are joining you in your misery? Are they wallowing in self-pity with you and bringing you further down into despair? Or are your friends bearing your burdens with you by caring for you in your time of need, crying with you, and still pointing you to the One Who holds your heart and is near to you in your brokenness?
Surround yourself with people who will lament with you yet open your eyes to everything God is doing and has done in the midst of your suffering. It is acceptable to be sad and angry about what is happening or has happened to you. However, it is possible to sing His praises in the midst of intense sadness.
To do this, we need people in our lives who love God and love us, bear our burdens with us, and point us to the One who holds our hearts and is close to us in our brokenness. Seek those who have also endured suffering and have chosen to pursue God in the midst of it. Their wisdom is pure, gentle, full of mercy and good fruit; without bias and hypocrisy (James 3:17). Such wisdom comes directly from the heart of God. Spend time with those who use their sufferings for His glory and help you seek God and His grace in the midst of your own suffering.
What are your eyes looking at and your ears listening to? What kind of accounts are you following on your social media feed? Is what you’re looking at promoting fear, doubt, jealousy, lust? (Even Christian accounts that aren’t bad can promote feelings of jealousy and lust because of our own immature thinking.) Is what you’re looking at on social media and Netflix or what you’re listening to promoting anything praiseworthy?
It is also important to note what resentment is NOT. It is NOT resentful to ask God to take your suffering from you. It is NOT resentful to be overwhelmed by what is happening to and around you. It is NOT resentful to tell Him your anxieties and your anger about your situation. All of these feelings and actions are permissible and even encouraged! The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit. Don’t be afraid to be completely honest with God about your emotions.
- Rejoice in the character of God. Be thankful for the blessings and grace He has given and is giving you in your suffering. Meditate on Jesus and the unjust suffering He endured while remaining sinless so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
- Surround yourself with people who love God and love you. People who will bear your burden with you yet point you to the One who created You and holds your heart in His grip. Look to the wisdom of those who have also endured suffering yet have chosen to pursue God and seek Him in the midst of it. Their wisdom is invaluable and comes from God.
- Set aside anything or anyone who is promoting feelings of self-pity, doubt, anger, fear, lust, and jealousy.
- A great resource is the book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop. He talks about what it means to lament yet praise God in suffering.
|Lives in historic central Virginia with her husband and daughter. She is a first grade teacher at a Christian school, and loves early mornings and spending time with her family.|