“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
I don’t know who you are, but I know this much about you: you are either just coming out of trouble, in the midst of it, or about to experience some troubles. That’s life! We are all in one of those three categories, aren’t we? This week, we are looking at what to do when overwhelming trials come, like a global pandemic that won’t seem to go away, or twin hurricanes in the gulf that left devastating destruction in Louisiana. Thousands are still displaced by Hurricane Laura, and the work of relief and recovery is ongoing even amid COVID-19 restrictions. Whatever trials you may be facing as you read this, God offers to walk with you through the troubles you experience in life. The first step we talked about yesterday is to release your grief. Give it to God. It’s natural and normal to weep when disaster strikes, and overwhelming trials come our way. Your tears are precious to God. Revealing your feeling is the first step to healing.
STEP TWO: RESIST BITTERNESS
When we release our grief to God, it helps prevent bitterness from taking root. Holding onto the hurt creates bitterness – and bitterness causes more trouble, affecting all of those around us. Bitterness blocks the healing grace of God from fully restoring our lives. Resist the urge to be resentful. Like mold or mildew, bitterness loves to grow in an environment of trouble and sorrow. One of the most effective ways to resist it is to change the environment. When disaster struck Lake Charles, the work of recovery began. Our teams have been deployed to help those who have lost so much. Memories of Hurricane Harvey that hit us remind us of the heartbreaking, hard, dirty work of cleaning out flooded homes. Cherished, irreplaceable items were destroyed. It was devastating. Yet, through the tears and with the help of loved ones, strangers and friends, rebuilding began, tearing out what was destroyed and creating a new environment to begin again!
Another way to resist bitterness from taking root when overwhelming trials come is to consider the deeper work of grace that God is doing in our lives. When Peter wrote to suffering saints that had been scattered by persecution throughout the Roman Empire, he said this, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
You may find yourself in the fire. God won’t let you be consumed by it. He is refining your faith. Like Job, you will come through it for His glory, praise, and honor! Resist the urge to let bitterness rob you from the grace to endure it. God is at work despite the pain. There is a greater purpose than you or I could even imagine.