Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1 we saw that, to start rebuilding your life after a major loss, the first step was to release your grief. In this second part we consider the next steps.
2. Resist bitterness
Bitterness is far worse than any loss, abuse, assault or problem you’ll ever experience. Why? Because it’s holding on to the hurt. That’s what bitterness does. Your past is past. It can’t hurt you any more. The only way it can hurt you is if you choose to hold on to it through bitterness. That’s dumb. You need to let it go. Because bitterness only hurts you. It never solves the problem. It doesn’t change the past. It can’t control the future. All it does is mess up your life right now.
So you need to ask yourself, Do I want to be bitter or do I want to get better? Those are the options. But you can’t have both. You cannot be bitter and get better at the same time. So if you choose to hold on to that hurt—and you will not forgive and you will not let it go and you will hold on to that resentment—you’re choosing to not get better.
Hebrews 12:15 (NASB) says: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble…” Bitterness just prolongs the hurt. Ask God to replace those feelings with his divine love.
How Do I Resist Bitterness?
A. Accept what cannot be changed.
The truth is, much of life is totally beyond your control. And sometimes the only way to overcome some problems is to accept them. They’re not going to change and you just accept them. Like your past. Your past is past. You can’t change it. You’re just going to have to accept it.
B. Focus on what’s left, not on what’s lost.
After a loss you need to find something to be grateful for. There’s always something to be grateful for. We take so much for granted in our lives and we need to just stop and say, God, I’m grateful! I’ve read that scientists have discovered that the attitude of gratitude is the healthiest emotion you can have. And the more grateful and thankful a person you are, the more emotionally and physically healthy you will be. It’s good for you to be grateful.
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The truth is, most of the people in the world would love to have your problems. Really! You think your problems are bad, but are you worried about what you’re going to eat next week? Or if you’re going to have a roof over your head tomorrow? Most of the world would love to have your problems. It’s like the old cliché, I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no legs. You just need to find something to be grateful for. You focus on what’s left, not what’s lost.
C. Play it down and pray it up.
Particularly if you’re a parent and you go through a crisis, you need to do this with your children. It’s been found that children are traumatised faster than adults. They need reassuring and comfort. Parents don’t need to say to their kids, This is terrible! We’ve lost everything! They need to reassure their kids and say, We’re going to make it. We’re here. God’s here. You’re here. We’re going to make it. You play it down and you pray it up and you talk to God about it.
3. Re-evaluate your life.
Ask yourself, What direction does God want me to take now? Disasters have a way of changing our direction, challenging our conceptions, and redefining our values. It is in a disaster we realise what matters most and what doesn’t matter most.
If you measure your life by how many possessions you have and if your success and your happiness is dependent upon the things you’ve got and the things you’ve collected and the cars and the toys and the boats and the possessions, and if your life is defined by what you own you’re in trouble. Because you could lose it all in a snap! Don’t confuse your possessions with your purpose in life. The Bible says in Luke 12:15: “Don’t be greedy. Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe”.
So don’t ever confuse what you live on with what you live for. A lot of people have a lot to live on and they have nothing to live for. The greatest things aren’t things. In 1 Timothy 6:7 (NLT) we read: “We didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die.”
There’s only one thing that cannot be taken from you. That is a relationship to Jesus Christ. Remember Braveheart? What did he say? “You can take our lives, but you can never take our freedom!” Well, not even death can take away the freedom you have in a relationship with Jesus. Matthew 16:26 says: “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?”
At the end of your life do you want to look back and say, See all these things I’ve collected? That’s what I gave my life for. I worked real hard to collect all these things. Houses, cars, boats, clothes. Then you’re going to go into the next life and leave them. That’s not really long-term thinking, is it? It’s pretty short-term thinking to invest all your time and energy in stuff that you’re not going to take with you into the trillions of years you’ll spend in eternity.