How to Choose Not To be Bitter When Ill

Do we have to accept a life of being bitter just because we are ill? Karlton says no.

“’Don’t call me Naomi,’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.'” (Ruth 1:20)

When I was a boy, along with my grandmother, I would visit an older couple in her neighborhood. The elderly woman was one of the sweetest ladies I had ever met, she was always kind and generous, thoughtful, and nice. On the other hand, her husband was one of the grumpiest, grouchiest, meanest, and most bitter people I ever met.

Some years later, the dear neighbor lady died. I could not help but think the old bitter man would never have any visitors, no one would want to be around him. But then there was a change in him; he too must have realized his bitterness would guarantee him a lonely life, so over time he changed. He became one of the most friendly people I ever met, always going out of his way to be friendly to passers by. He traded his bitterness for a better personality.

Affliction can make us bitter. I think the ‘natural’ course of suffering and pain is to become bitter in our misery. It seems to go against common sense to become better in our harsh circumstances, to be cheerful in our misery. How do we find our way from bitterness to a better attitude?

I think if we depended upon our own strength we would have much difficulty turning our bitterness into a better life. We need help and power from above. Our own talents and abilities are not enough to endure suffering and remain free of bitterness. Yet by calling upon God, asking for the joy of the Lord, for peace and courage in our difficulties, we can leave bitterness behind.

Friend, I know how easy it is to become bitter when hardship strikes, but bitterness leaves us nothing, and it steals our joy and hope. We need power from above to turn from bitterness, to smile, love, hope, and spread joy in spite of circumstances that could make us bitter, let us be better instead of bitter.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to be better and not bitter, gives us the joy that makes us strong in spite of our weakness. Amen.

About the Author:
Karlton Douglas lives in Ohio with his lovely wife. He has found avoiding bitterness an ongoing challenge, but with God everything is better.

Is bitterness stealing your joy, and driving people away from you? Have you asked Jesus for the spiritual fruit of joy?

This song is “Gratitude” with Nichole Nordeman singing. It’s a beautiful song. We ask God to answer our prayers to bring us comfort. But then the song shares that even if He doesn’t He will provide in other ways–and we can still choose gratitude rather than being bitter about our circumstances or unanswered prayers. May it bless you. -Lisa

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc