Bitterness, it creeps in like a weed. Mixed in at first with sentiments of hardship, maybe even cries for help. It’s not complaining, you say, it’s being honest. And maybe that’s partly true. But then, like an untended garden, it grows. Watered by others on your path who affirm not just the truth of a situation but our attitudes about it. It takes over, little by little, till all we see is through its lens, a world and life tainted by the hardships we endure with no room for joy.
But what is the antidote?! Whose hands are strong enough to tend to such overgrowth yet gentle enough not to leave us barren?
There is only one.
In the book of Philippians Paul writes from a jail cell of his joy. He urges the church in Phillipi to do all things without grumbling or complaining that they might shine like stars in a dark world… how is this possible with all the hardships they were facing?!
SO THEN – two little words. Before all the instruction and challenge to face what’s coming he points them back – to Christ’s humble death on the cross.
Because he died – you now have the power of the Holy Spirit inside you.
Because he died – you now have a reason to rejoice beyond reasoning.
Because he died – you look forward to a better home.
Because he died – you can now have joy in the face of all hardship, loss and pain.
Because he died – you now have him forever.
“Through prayer and supplication” we go straight to the Father for our needs (because He died), and His peace guards our hearts and minds… from the worries of the world and the bitterness that threatens to bear fruit in our hearts.