Get Rid of all Bitterness

Written by Helen Grace Lescheid

Take this study to learn how to deal with pain so that bitterness doesn’t take root.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).

Cathy had been deeply hurt by her father’s rejection. When the opportunity came for her to move away, she took it. I can now forget about my father’s rejection, she thought, and get on with my life.

But Cathy discovered that bitterness is like a sliver. If  left alone, it will fester and get worse and worse. It will poison us and all our relationships  including our relationship with God. We must release the hurt to Jesus. We must let Him pull out the sliver. How? By confessing the sin of bitterness to God and to the person who hurt us. Only then can God heal us of the hurt.

At first, Cathy found this most unfair. “He’s the one who hurt me,” she said. “He ought to be the first one to ask for forgiveness.” But he didn’t. Cathy began to realize that if she wanted to grow in her relationship with God, she’d have to make the first move. She’d have to ask her father to forgive her. She grabbed a pen and began to write, ”Dear Dad, I want to ask you to forgive me. I’ve had resentment in my heart towards you, and I know I’ve hurt you. I love you, Cathy.”

“Something happened to me that day while I was writing the letter,” she said. “Something unclean and ugly left me, like I had pulled the plug on sink full of dirty water. I didn’t feel angry toward my dad anymore. And for the first time, I could actually feel God’s love for me.”

A month later, her father responded with a letter asking her to forgive him. The healing of a relationship had begun. Even if her father had not responded favorably, Cathy would still have benefited. Being free of resentment, she could now grow in love and confidence towards God, herself, and other  people.

Do you have resentment and bitterness in your heart? The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.” How?  By turning it over to Jesus. Not once or twice, but as many times as it comes to mind. Eventually, you will be free of the hurt and compassion will take it’s place.

Lord Jesus, I give you this hurt and bitterness. I do not want to carry it anymore. I want to forgive the person who’s hurt me just as You have forgiven me. I want to be a channel of your love. Amen.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: What do you do when church hurts?

PS. This story is told in He Raised Me Up To Stand on Mountains You can order it here.

Questions: Is there someone in your life that you carry resentment towards?  What will be your first step in order to get rid of the bitterness?

About the Author Helen Grace Lescheid

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13 Responses to “Get Rid of all Bitterness”

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    @P From your comments it sounds like you are having an inner turmoil struggling as you are torn by extreme bitterness and want to let go but you can’t. First off God does not punish us because we sin if he would punish us then he would have not forgiven Peter who betrayed him. After Peter betrayed Christ and Peter felt like you do now so he went back to his old trade of fishing however Christ had other plans for him. After Christ rose from the dead he built a fire on the beach where Peter was fishing and when Peter returned from fishing he prepared Peter food which in itself is truly amazing! Christ knew that Peter betrayed him however Christ proved by his actions by preparing for his needs and Christ never punished him but asked him three times if Peter loved Christ and his reply was yes each time. Christ forgave Peter for denying him and did NOT punish him so your view is mistaken.

    The Psalmist wrote of how the wicked would be blessed and in the end their work would be nothing when they entered God’s presence. Freedom for you is very simple surrender to Christ and your bitterness will subside.. God Bless

  • p says:

    I am bitter and resentful and truthfully was mad at God bc i felt how can you just abdicate someone from all the foolishness they caused and i sneeze and you come down from heaven and punish me crazy. He had all this grace and mercy for others but in my heart i was just as wicked and He seemed to like punishing me. This is not tru but i guess i was jealous of the grace given instead of rejoicing i was angry bc i felt like they stole from me never acknowledged it and you bless them and instead of being thankful for their salvation i was angry. I was. even i honestly felt Gd gave me a raw deal..anyway i was letting bitterness take root. It still makes me question at first bc i mean why should I be in sin they did the sinning but God one isnt fair and two He like the lady said looks at akk sin the same so i had a lust problem. So your husband may b a cheater but you are a gambler or murderer in your heart you cant judge them no matter how messed up they seem to you. I basically had a lot of work to do on my character and dont worry about why im not blessed with this or that anyone i just try to have peace as best i know how we arent owed anything at all and as easy as it came it can disappear.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Cheri,

    Wow! It is unimaginable what you have gone through in a mere 12-day period as you have mentioned. Just going through one of these things is enough for an individual to deal with but multiply things have struck you simultaneously. I can totally sympathize with how you are feeling for I have dealt with multiple tragedies in my life and if it were not for my faith in God and the help of a few close people I would not have pulled through. I congratulate you for opening up and sharing your feelings instead of holding all that stuff within. When you open up and share your heartache with God and others, it helps you to be able to deal with the distressing issues at hand.

    At this time, you have important issues to deal with and to be hanging onto that bitterness and anger towards the woman will only take away from the vital things that you need to focus on. Your dad, mom, and even your husbands health concerns with the eye cancer is more important than the bottled up emotions toward that lady. Maybe you would benefit by writing a letter to that woman (but do not send it) as suggested in this devotional as a means of releasing that anger and bitterness that is mounting up within you. Then, at the same time give all that heartache to God. Tell Him how hurt you are and that you need His strength to help you get through all the other things that are taking place.

    Here is a suggested prayer that you may want to use when praying to God about the anger. “Lord, I am so mad! I am angry, and I need your help. Why do things have to go so wrong? I need to do something with this heated emotion-and I choose to give You my anger and bitterness, Lord. Redeem the heartache and bring peace to what seems out of control. I need your healing and peace. Lord, I am so down! Do you see my tears? May your love comfort me now so I do not fall further inot these emotions that are trying to pull me downwards. Fill me with your peace so I can be totaly available to my dad, mom and husband.” In Jesus name I pray, Amen

    At this time, I would like to pray for you:

    Father God, I lift Cheri up to you this day in prayer. As you already know, she is going through a great deal of stuff all at one time and she needs Your help. Your Word states that Your Spirit is a source of comfort and I ask that Cheri experience that inconceivable comfort that You offer. Strengthen Cheri with Your love and peace so she can be there for her dad and mom. Bring healing to her heart and those that she holds dear to her heart. Lift Cheri above all that is taking place so she can see what You would have her to see. Let not anymore heartache come her way as You give her a calm spirit to move onwards in dealing with the issues at hand. I ask for You to bring the right people into Cheri’s life that will be able to encourage and support her through this tough season of life. You do not expect us to go through life on our own and that is why we turn to You and the help from others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

    Cheri, do you have a pastor or a few close friends you can talk to at this time? We have private mentors available if you need someone to encourage you through this tough time. Click on this link: http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/ and fill out the form.

    Hope to hear back from you!

  • cheri says:

    Husband also started drinking again after being sober for more then 23 years.

  • cheri says:

    I am bitter and angry. My husband of 37 years had an affair. My 91 year old father had been put on hospice, my 83 year old mother was in the hospital for 8 days , my sister died of breast cancer and the woman who my husband had the affair with sent me naked pictures of of them together. All happened within a 12 day time period. He said it was over but again saw pictures taken of them together 6 weeks later. 2 days after finding that out my husband was diagnosed with eye cancer. Seeing if the cancer has spread tonight. I am so angry at this other women and so bitter towards my husband. Im in dis belief that he could do what he has done. I cry everyday. I am sad.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Jackie, I cannot imagine what you have gone through in losing your parents so close together. I know for myself that when I have bitterness in my heart it often comes as a result of comparing my circumstances with someone else’s. I don’t know if any of your bitterness stems from something similar? For me, when I find myself making myself sick over these comparisons I find it helps to really focus on what I have. I make myself list them out to God, thanking Him very specifically for the people and circumstances in my life. Sometimes I do it through gritted teeth but I find that as I force myself to focus on what is rather than what is not, the bitterness starts to lose it’s grip on me.

    I am curious as to how bitterness plays into your situation. Anger at the loss of your parents makes sense to me, do you know where the bitterness comes from? Do you think you have lost faith that the world can be good? Do you feel cheated? Is it a form of sadness?

    From what you’ve described here it sounds like you are not angry with your husband directly, rather it’s like your anger is spilling out and getting all over him. I remember a Bible study by Mary Kassian that I did years ago called Conversation Peace and in it she said that if our hearts are filled with Christ’s peace, then not one drop of bitterness can spill out, no matter how badly we are shaken. That picture has always stayed with me. If your emotions feel out of control and your husband is baring the brunt of it, the first thing I’d recommend it to go to your husband and confess. Tell him that you are not angry with him, you’ve been angry NEAR him and you know that you have hurt him. Apologize to him and tell him that you are going to work at getting better. Make sure he knows how much you love him.

    Once you’ve done that you’re going to need some help to work through these powerful emotions. Like Trisha recommended, I would also strongly encourage you to see a Christian counsellor or go to your pastor. You’ve experienced a significant trauma and there has been damage done. There’s no weakness in needing help to work through that. You know how when someone has been in a fender bender they often need to see a Chiropractor or physical therapist to repair the damage? I think you’re in a similar state emotionally. There are wounds and they have not healed properly. A good counselling experience can really help with that. It will take time, but it will be worth it.

    Remember too, that while you may feel very far from God, God has not stepped away from you. I know in my own life there have been times when I’ve been so hurt that I had nothing to say to God. But God was still there. I’ve heard it said that if we are a thousand steps away from God, God will take 999 steps and just asks us to take one. All you have to do is turn around, He’ll be right there. I cannot tell you why you’ve directed your anger at your husband unless perhaps you felt it wasn’t safe to be angry at your brother and you couldn’t be angry at your parents so he was a safe place to express that emotion? A counsellor can help you work through it.

    I wonder if perhaps you’re stuck midway through the grieving process? I don’t know what your life has been like since you lost your parents, but if you did not have time to grieve properly, or were too hurt to be able to do it, that might be what has you stuck. The traditional model of grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I wonder if something has you stuck in the second stage? Again, a good counsellor should be able to help you through that.

  • Trisha says:

    To Jackie, Life really does have a way of kicking our butts doesn’t it? i’m wondering why the author of this devo doesn’t offer you some solutions. i know for me, my bitterness DID cost me my 1st marriage and then the disconnection from my son for over 3 yrs. i was stuck like you Jackie and i paid the price for letting it continue. i, like you, couldn’t pray or read the Bible or concentrate on anything for too long. It was a horrible place to be in. i reached out for councelling AFTER i made a complete mess of my life. i started drinking and basically self sabatoging all my relationships. It was like being in a really bad dream and i couldn’t wake up. The suffering was unbearable yet the whole time the LORD God had his eye on me. i pray you don’t go down the same road as i did…that you get the help you need NOW before the enemy comes in like a flood. My heart and prayers go out to you today because i understand the pain you are in. Please look into some kind of group or personal councelling in your area. Something that helped and still helps me stay on track is having scriptures on my wall and not to isolate myself where the enemy can put the strangle hold on you. Bitterness will cause all kinds of physical ailments as well. i know i don’t EVER want to go to that pool of self pity and bitterness ever again! i don’t know what you will have to go through, Jackie, yet PLEASE know the LORD Jesus DOES care about you. i had to go through what i did to get me to the place and the person i am today. Today that’s all behind me and i am stronger than ever in my faith. Unfortunately, some of us have to go through more than others to get Jesus birthed within us. You have my hearfelt compassion, concern and prayers. You’re in a battle right now and you must believe His Words from Chronicles 32:7-8 which declares, “I am and strong and courageous. I am not afraid or discouraged because the LORD my God is with me to help ne fight my battles.” as well as, 2 Thessolonians 3:16 “May the LORD of peace Hinself grant you His peace at all times and in all ways (under all circumstances and conditions whatever comes.”) You are loved!

  • Jackie says:

    I am really having a problem with the bitterness and anger I am having a problem moving forward. It seems that my anger really stem from the death of my parents and the realization of how my brother became a different person afterwards. My anger and frustration are increasing and I want to forgive and move on but, it seems as if I am holding on and I notice with these feeling I have a pity feeling for myself as well as I am loosing my mind. I must admit all my anger and bitterness is aimed at my husband of 22 years and I can’t figure that out. I know that I love him he has remained faithful thru the ups and downs and even thru the disappointments and the deaths of my parents. My mom died in June of one year and then my father the next year in June. This was a devastating time and has left some unanswered question and feelings. But now the bitterness and anger and yes rage has set in and I don’t want to feel these feelings but I can’t control them. I have stop praying because my concentration has gotten completely lost. I don’t enjoy time at church like I use to and my relationship with my spouse is about ready to be done. He is a good man and he has his faults but, I don’t think about him like a wife should I basically blame him for my bitterness and anger. Not bu actually telling him but by showing him. I really want to be with him and love him.But these feelings of anger and bitterness get in the way our relationship is not the only relationship it happens to with my friends and sometimes my children. I want this to stop but I DONT KNOW HOW!!!! Can you help me please before I loose everything.

  • Lily says:

    Ameena, i FEEL you SO deeply my sister in Christ! i went through lies and deception for 7 yrs yet thank God i wasn’t married to the jerk.(wouldn’t live with him either) i tried and tried to understand him at the cost of me always being the emotionally sick one. Everytime he couldn’t get his way he would break up with me (or me with him) and would turn to the arms of another woman. He didn’t care when they were married or separated either! i kept forgiving and letting him back into my life. MISTAKE! i learned, you can love someone yet you do NOT have to put up with such “in your face” deceptive behavior. We are God’s children NOT doormats. This sounds like the work of the evil one. Liars LIE, cheaters CHEAT.Instead of harbouring all this bitterness PLEASE SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP! If you continue on with retaliation, things can back fire on YOU and you’re the innocent one (trust me I KNOW). This man thinks he has you over a barrel and with 5 kids he figures he’s got you right where he wants you. You must seek councelling Ameena! i feel SO burdened for you b/c i know how you feel. i pray the hand of God Almighty will get a hold of your husband and guide him to get the help he himself needs as well. My heart and prayers go out to you.

  • Ameena says:

    I feel so much bitterness and anger that i can’t think straight or do anything right anymore. My only objective now is to destroy. My husband and i are having serious problems for almost one year now. I caught him cheating on me and then left all the evidence for me to see which he taught i wouldn’t. I investigated and found out so much, when confronted he denied everythin until he knew for sure that i did know everthing. He even went to church and swore on his life, mother, children etc. and then after admit they were all true. I gave him an opportunity to confess everything that i knew but refused. I would have forgiven him a long time but for all the lies he told and swearing and embarassment with proving to friends and open up everthing, i am now at a point of leaving but we have 5 children and i know they love him and wants me to forgive him so badly (which i could never do).i know this will destroy them and then i will have to take all the blame for this. I can’t sleep in the same room with him, i don’t care to look at his face, i don’t care for him at all. I feel i am living with a stranger in my house. I totally despise this man i married for 30 years. The sad thing is he has been doing this to me for the past 5 years and fed me a lot of garbage because he knew how much trust i had in him. (jerk) Not anymore. I just want out but don’t know how to. Please advise.

  • Felicitas says:

    Hi Lily – First of all the beauty is you don’t have to go to him just to G-d asking G-d to help you forgive, etc. About unfairness oh how often I thought that I was so good and how unfair everything was and my anger was building and building poisining my life and relationships. Than the Holy Spirit finally got a hold of me and showed me the “unfairness” of Christ suffering so we can be saved, united with G-d and call on our Abba to save us,help us any time. Tough going and tough to understand but our anger turns into selfrighteousness because we measure sin on levels saying one sin is worse than the other. That is not what G-d says sin is sin and when one looks at the first commandment and second we see the importance G-d places on things which is not to have any G-d’s before him and to love thy neighbor as yourself. Both don’t say to be abused but anger is a crutch and idol worship you can always use the excuse because you were abused and unfairly treated is the reason for you to be who you are and your life to be what it is. If your happy with that – that’s fine. But if not please, please pray about what I share with you since it comes from someone who has been there many years and learned my lessons the very hard way.
    Your devoted sister in Christ
    Felicitas

  • Lily says:

    Well, Felicitas, we meet again! Seems like you and i are the only ones who seem to have a need to express ourselves. And here it is once again…the UNfairness of US having to go to the quilty one with OUR asking THEIR forgiveness! Please notice it takes the ASKING! i want to let the whole thing disolve into God’s Eternity. Let HIM be the one to judge and heal and EVERYTHING ELSE HE needs done to make me the person HE designed me to be. In the meantime… i may WANT to forgive the perp but i don’t HAVE TO! This is FREEDOM TO ME.

  • felicitas says:

    Thank you for this story of bitterness. I had bitterness and resentment in my heart for years. I felt abandoned and alone. Little by little God showed me my anger and resentment as well as the bitterness resulting from this hurt. I confessed my sin with a lot of people but reading your article I felt the urge to confess my sin towards my ex husband whom I thought I forgiven. However something happened as I prayed this time a release came over me and a peace. God is not finished with me and will remind all of us at the right time what we still need to do and ask forgivewness about as long as we have an open heart towards him and desire to have him change us. God Bless You!

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