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December 5, 2021 9:00 pm
What's it look like to combat bitterness? Pastor and author Stephen Viars explores the power of lament to give voice and resolution to our deepest grief.
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So a lot of her listeners. Unfortunately or fortunately know the drama of our 10 year anniversary date. That's the you know the basis of our vertical marriage book, but I would ask you because you have heard you tell the story of thousand times of how you lost your feelings for me, when you describe what you felt.
You say you went from anger to resentment to bitterness. Yes, talk about that love. It was interesting because it was different. I remember when I was angry with you and I Kyle this is just wrong. It felt wrong. But then that anger turned to resentfulness like I am not you I'm also now resentful, but then something happened in my heart became toxic.
I feel like Ike.
It was poisoning. Every part of me that I didn't like you, that all and nothing you could do would make me happy you felt that because we live yet. I'm smiling though because how can I think we're doing great welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most and Wilson and Dave Wilson and you can find email@example.com or on our family life. This is family life today. You're mad and you know we were yelling often as I was going to another church meeting. But when you harbor bitterness. I know that feeling. So Mike that's deeper that is inside and it's something that we carry and I don't think we know how to get rid of right so were going to talk about bitterness, but more importantly, how it affects our lives and how we can then negotiated and we have the man to do it with us today. Steve Myers is with us. He's written a book on bitterness overcoming bitterness. The first follow me say welcome family. If I think you're going to help us and a lot of other people today well and I really hope that's true. It's a way to be here in my goals just appoint all opposed to Jesus Christ, is the point as to the truth of the word of God and he will never disappoint us, will, and the great thing is there's hope in this talk is a sad topic and I think about the men and women who might listen to this program and this one hurts but the good news is that there's a way out and am our sweet Savior stands ready to help us overcome bitterness and you know even as I read your book and I know you're not just an author you actually I said this at lunch a very unique blend of your lead pastor a church in Lafayette Indiana Hoosiers absolutely false. The Cardinals search for church and in Lafayette and yet you have this counseling side in a bank as you lead a counseling ministry. You have army we set lunch I heard all these amazing things are doing in the counseling world if you found that unique well I don't see a lot of lead pastors that are that gifted and that that site as well with one of the boss is a guy gave me is to follow a mentor who had the same gifts and experience what happened was as a pastor he became concerned because he was teaching the word of God on Sunday.
But then he saw the members of the church throughout the rest of the week really struggling practical lives and he didn't know how to make the connection and by God's grace, he received training in biblical counseling and it went from the church ministering to people. One day a week. The church ministering to people, seven days a week because they were able take the truth from the sufficient word of God and apply it to the real life hurts and and he even led the church not only to have a counseling center for people inside the church. But for people in the community. And so it's been a marvelous opportunity for us.
Note 32 people been trained and make hours available every week to people outside of our church family who were struggling that's become a marvelous source of outreach for our church family. So as a pastor that gives me an opportunity to be talking to people who don't know the Lord on a regular basis or to be talking to people who are really struggling and that then fuels the preaching side of things because preaching becomes preventative counseling events in the way I think about it a lot and also has a sanctifying impact on me because you knows I have the opportunity to work with people in counseling. I see myself big time. Just no question that the Holy Spirit can multitask, and so is using counseling to convict me of ways that I need to change the things that I need to work on and so it just a great synergistic relationship and so I actually think that pastors are helped. If whatever way they can if they will be involved in the counseling room. It's a good thing to me were called to make disciples and you just sort identified a missing link. I think a lot of us. I know that I didn't. I don't have that I have the mindset and I have the heart for not always gifted to understand that I'm always a guy soon so you're probably doing like I go see somebody actually cares. Again, help me out of the muck of this thing, but in and also we have we mentioned this also your your married three kids four grandkids yes yes so you your current a busy busy life, but I think this topic I I got it tell you when I read your book. Overcoming bitterness moving from life's greatest hurts to a life filled with joy. That's a big move.
It is from her, not just to better to joy. I told him as is reasons like you know the bitterness I thought I was over my life. It's still looming there pretty big so let's talk is. I mean, I haven't seen a lot of books written about this. You know you see forgiveness books and you talk a lot about that in the book, but the center on the bitterness it's in our lives. Help us understand sort of the route you know where is this come from where to house it manifests itself in person's life. That's one of the things I love about the sufficiency of the word of God. So Scripture doesn't just call upon us to change things behaviorally so it's not simply a start doing this or stop doing that and I'm so glad that we have a Savior who loves us much more comprehensively than that is what I got into those studies in the Scripture of the topic of bitterness that you find it played off in three very separate categories. The first of the one we just talked about bitter words or bitter behavior week we all know what that feels like effect. The Hebrew word tomorrow means the poisonous bile from the gallbladder of all things. I love how God is just so picturesque we know what bitter speeches we we know what bitter behavior is so that that's one category that's very obvious to us that we start unpacking the word of God. It uses that word group Morrow in Old Testament to cross in the New Testament the word bitter into other categories and one that really surprised me was bitter circumstances. This is why none of us because they want to have any bitterness in my life. Sure we do it because we live in a sin cursed world and so bitterness in the Bible is not for something I do. It's for something I face that I face bitter circumstances every day.
Every one of our listeners faces bitter circumstances every day.
So for example you have Joseph story comprises a rather significant percentage of the book of Genesis walked on his daddies deathbed.
He gathers all the brothers around and he starts making these pronouncements about what their lives were like and what their lives are going to be like, and when he gets to Joseph he says the archers shot bitter arrows at you when you talk about an awkward moment to talk talking about Joseph's own writers and peers that tells us Joseph was not responsible for that bitterness was not for something he did. It was first something that he faced that story also gives us great hope. Joseph did not let the bitter treatment by his brothers make him a bitter person. There's hope in that another example of that is Hannah. Hannah struggled with infertility.
What a terrible thing for a woman to have to face and yet the Scripture says that her arrival used to mock her about her infertility she she would provoke her bitterly. The Bible says there's another example of how bitterness is not first something that I do its first it's a condition that I face in the sin cursed world we all face situations where people are treating us in an unjust fashion and Hannah by the way, you can also add her quote unquote pastor Eli who comes alongside her and sees her praying and accuses her of being drunk so you have one woman provoking her because of her inability to have a child and then you have her religious leader falsely accusing her. But there's another example of why we can have hope because I didn't make Hannah bitter woman. In fact, in the very next chapter. She is given this marvelous worship him to God. So even though she had been treated in such a terrible way by the people around her that did not make her a bitter woman and Steve.
It feels like right now in our culture. It feels like there's a lot of bitterness. I feel like an epidemic absolutely has you write so much is going on around us that bitterness can really take root. While that's what I think we have to be spiritually authentic. So if we just say why don't have any bitterness that is not biblically correct because, again, bitterness is not something I do its first the condition I face. Here's another example. By the way, it's the children of Israel where the Bible says that the Egyptians made their work bitter and there's a lot of people who were in work situations just like that. Day after day after day, their bosses treating them unkindly. Their coworkers are treating them in an unjust fashion or just everything that goes on in a sin cursed work environment and against its bitter conditions of so many say okay Lord, you told me that in the word of God. Thank you because that broadens my concept but then what's the connection point between bitter circumstances we all face and being a bitter individual that you told us.
I shouldn't be. And the answer is the third category.
It's our heart, what one of the most powerful verses on this topic is Proverbs 1410. The heart knows its own bitterness and that's where all of this is played out, but what goes on in my heart and the way I respond to unjust treatment to the way I respond to the disappointments in my life before anybody else knows about it before I speak a word about it. The question is how do I process that in my heart and the beautiful thing is through the power of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
I got a new heart. I have the Holy Spirit working inside of me. So in my heart in my inner person I can process these hurts in a way that doesn't just in a determinative fashion mandate that I become bitter and in fact the Scripture would suggest I can actually be growing in my sweet relationship with Christ. As a result of the hurt in a way that prevents me from becoming a better person. That's the goal.
And that's the hope. So how do we because I hear you talk about the bitter heart and I think sometimes I love to say I have a friend who can acknowledge that he has a bitter hard. There's times in my life where my calm, good bitter about that. And yet you know it it'll reveal itself eventually. But I think it's often we don't know yet our heart is given us symptoms, we can feel it, but I think we live in this denial thing I, bitter, and some of us as followers of Christ. We think that sin to be better. So, do we live in a denial is it always apparent, as if something gets triggered I was going to say, Dave. It's so funny because when you talk about money or hurt anything because Dave's gray.
I can't find good night.
I know that you feel like you're really because when you are trying to forgive your dad for leaving you for the alcoholism for the abandonment of your family.
I remember you couldn't even talk about your dad without having this motion. Rise up and I said to you.
I think he could forgive you. She did say I think an honor. Forget it. And again, I hadn't been able to identify we are early in our marriage.
Those first five, six years that she literally said one day, you know you need to forgive your dad and I looked there like to go and then as I stepped away and said is there truth in what and said it was so. My goodness, there's a hardened root in their youth face as you're saying, but I couldn't see it until she sort of pointed out in them I go.
My goodness, it's there.
Then the question, and I know you get there eventually. We only get there immediately, but when I do that you will and I think there are several very important biblical answers to the question, how do I win the battle in my heart with these bitter circumstances, and in one of the biggest answers from the word of God is to learn the practice laments that the discipline of room lament between me and the Lord you can't talk about that because I love that section of your book. I don't think we understand laments okay going well and I'm certainly not suggesting that I'm an expert on it. I don't know if we are talking about one book you recommend somebody else. My friend Mark Brough Apuzzo pastor up at College Park church in Indianapolis wrote a book called dark clouds deep mercy on the topic of lament, and I quoted rather extensively in that section on my book because he just did such a marvelous yes I think of the church of Jesus Christ and one of the things that he points out is that you know at least 1/3 of the Psalms in the Bible are lament Psalms is pretty fascinating when you think about it because Psalms.
That's our worship him. Not if you read the Psalms honestly right.
It's amazing how you hear God's people, people who were being held up to us as examples of how you talk to the Lord there practicing spiritual candor authenticity there bringing their hurts right to the throne of grace there there bringing their questions of fact, it's pretty close to their bringing their complaints right to the throne of God. And I think we have developed an evangelical culture, the belief that what you don't do that you don't ask questions you don't act as if there's some things that are troubling you you you you you just put on a plastic smile broken heart and act or for men what will men don't admit that they're hurting big boys don't cry, just rub some dirt on it etc. etc. not to forget about the Bible be our guide. We ought to follow the example of the Psalmist we ought to learn how to practice biblical lament and and I'm convinced in my life Dave that one of the reasons that I struggle with bitterness is because I'm not as honest with the Lord as I ought to be and I'm a 61-year-old man. You start wondering how many more years do I have to get this right.
Thankfully, my identity is not wrapped up in the getting it right but ultimately it's wrapped up in my identity in Christ.
But I want to spend the remaining years of my life being more honest with the Lord immediately with the pain, the hurt, the disappointment so that it doesn't turn into bitterness because again that's the whole point of Hebrews 1215.
See to it that you don't fall short of the grace of God. Don't let this root of bitterness spring up cause trouble in the file.
Manny, one of the ways I can do that as a pastor and as a father and as a husband as a friend is walking very quickly from bitter circumstances to the very throne of my God and cry out to him, hear my cry oh God attendant to my prayer when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I Psalms 61 one into and there may be some of our listeners, who the truth of the matter is they have become bitter people. That's just the honest truth. In fact, like one woman in the Bible named Naomi she started looking and I really do believe if you don't handle this area in your life affect the way that you look well it one of the ways that I can prevent that is by very quickly going to the throne of God and so some of our listeners may so you know the reason I'm a bitter person today. I've never spoken honestly to the Lord about these hurts.
It's interesting. I took some women on the trip to Israel and we were doing. Just a lot of healing kind of conversations and talks and I talked to this wonderful man she was in her late 50s and she said I cannot forgive my mom and as we talked about it. I said I will do you feel like it's affecting. She said absolutely. And then she said, and I will not forgive and so instead of convincing her or taking Bible verses and thumping her on the head with all the Bible says you need to forgive. I said let's do this as you're talking about. This spell lament and wondering how could I have done something right because I often feel like I'm failing in this area and I said I want you to picture yourself standing before God, you picture your mom who had passed away with Jesus.
Now let me add this to. She told me the reason I can't forgive my mind is because every single day of my life. She may take up her room and she would be my sister and I to handle at this all day long and she said how do I forgive that she said it marked me all the days of my life and I will not forgive her and so she has this experience. I said okay. I just can you just picture yourself in your mind. Use your imagination and she said yes I said I want you to tell your mom how she harmed you, and she had never done that before and so she starts going on and on term like yelling angry at what this has caused her and then I said now I want you to take that.
I want you to tell Jesus what that has meant and how it is affected you. And so again she's crying she's yelling and I'm wondering without lamenting so I think it was and I just look back on my life. I viewed that kind of conversation is being disrespectful to the Lord – I'm not supposed to complain to God as if he doesn't know about the situation that I'm already facing already so it it really results in a shallowness in my relationship with God. If I'm not practicing authenticity and and perhaps many of us would do well to spend more time in the Psalms, especially those lament Psalms, and I've had the privilege recently of working with some counselees and I've encourage them to write a Psalm of lament. So to to follow one of the lament Psalms either one of the shorter ones are one of the longer ones but to actually write their own and tell their story to the Lord and then just pray that back to the Lord and when they would think about that a vent that hurt from the past, then they can start factoring in. But God knows about that. I've been talking with the Lord about that and I have found his grace to be sufficient was not just me and the person who offended me or me and the person who hurt me.
Now it's my loving heavenly father and were continuing to have conversations and I would actually get to the place of this is really hard but when I can get to the place of saying it was good for me that I was afflicted as a first absolutely human to freefall yeah but that's not the end of the sentence.
But God meant it for good.
It was good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn thy statutes, and you know we we mentioned Hebrews 1215, which is one of the seminal passages on bitterness. The context is crucial. That's a context about our heavenly father's discipline in our life we don't like the wheat we don't like it all because we don't like God to be sovereign want God to be Santa Claus and we start to understand God loves us too much just to give us everything we want God always gives us a blend of blessings but also challenges in order to help conform us more to the image of Christ. And so when I'm factoring the sovereignty of God into my hurt into my pain. It helps me to start viewing the bitterness is melting away and the looking for opportunities to become more like Christ in the midst of that challenge or as a result.
But what I can get to the place of saying God's working that for good in my life. I can't acknowledge God's sovereign work in my life to help me become more like Christ and be sit bitter simultaneously.
You cannot hold those two truths so you're getting rid of one in your heart and your embracing one that is far, far sweeter talk about what that woman ended up as she took it to Jesus and she lamented to Jesus, you could feel at first it was such anger and the more she topped it was almost like a healing balm came over and I said only a bottle up all the feelings you have anything, the bitterness and just picture yourself handing it to Jesus. We use our imaginations for all kind of things and so do visually just picture her handing it to him. It was so interesting because as she handed it.
She didn't want to.
At first I got because sometimes that bitterness becomes our clothing are absolutely that we've been tearing a little ears and it was the first time she said that I handed him all of that and what she said was, and she handed it to him. She had all these images and remembrances of what her mom told her about her own upbringing about her mother had been beaten and abandoned and isolated and it was horrific and I think what she was saying this I felt like in that moment of remembrance, I thought oh my mom was only reacting out of what had been given to her and now I have a choice that I can either pass on my bitterness or I can allow God's healing to begin to renew me and to renew my spirit.
She walked out of there and it's not a one time.
Oh, it's all done. I know as you said you're right because many times it takes years to unpack some of you could tell there was a lightness about her that she hadn't hadn't long time. Isn't that powerful, to know that it's a choice. Yes, if I'm a listener and now there's an action step. I think it's obvious it's a day to lament. It's a day to maybe get a journal out and write your own. I don't know what the percentage would be, but when I read to the Psalms and I see the lament. Often those Psalms and in a totally different place is absolutely honest and they just don't you know holdbacks I God I'm struggling with this.
This is where I am. I don't understand. Then you get to the end.
Often even Psalm 73.
When my favorite word just complaining about the prosperous of the wicked, and then he says I entered the sanctuary God. As I wrote, I finally was honest with my struggle. I got a different perspective and not a magic wish, but man, if you today took the bitterness your feeling and put pen to paper, or get your phone on digit or just pray it.
I mean, I'm. I mean, Steve and I read that section.
Lament your bookings like we don't do that enough. I don't do that. So I would encourage listener today. Today to start the journey toward as you call it a life filled with hope starts with maybe a limit today. Most of us don't have to be convinced about how toxic bitterness, anger and resentment can be for relationship. We know that these are issues that need to be addressed in our own hearts, but we don't know how to do that and sometimes it feels like if we confront the bitterness were going to be unsafe. That's why I think the book that Stephen Byers has written that they been in Wilson have been talking with him about today. The book overcoming bitterness is so helpful, so practical for so many of us especially.
I'm thinking about the holiday season ahead. I'm thinking about relationships that may be you are apprehensive about engaging with family members.
People where there is resentment or bitterness where there is a hard heartedness Stephen Byers book.
Overcoming bitterness is a great resource for you to process through play your way through.
We got copies of it in our family like today resource Center go to our website family like to.com to get your copy or polished order at one 800 FL today again the website is family life to.com or you can call 1-800-358-6329 to request your copy of the book overcoming bitterness by Stephen Byers that let me take just a minute here and say thank you to those of you who over the last couple weeks have heard us talking about our urine matching gift, and have already gotten in touch with us and said we love family life to a we appreciate the program. We agree with your mission to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We are on board you made a donation.
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How do we move toward forgiveness. Stephen Byers will be back with David in Wilson tomorrow. We hope you can be back as well on behalf of our hosts David and Wilson on Bob Lapine will see you back next time for another edition of family life today.
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