A Bitter Choice

“Anyone know that guy’s name? You know, the one who wrote Walden?” The college student, trying to complete an assignment, pumped a crowd of us in the workout room for information.

“Henry David Thoreau.” An older gentleman answered.

“He’s the writer who said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ You know that quote, right?” Another man added.

The young man looked confused. “Never heard that one. What’s it mean?”

The older gentlemen exchanged glances and one answered, “You’re too young to understand. I can tell there’s still hope alive in you. Trust us, in twenty years, you’ll have that quote tattooed across your chest.”


It’s an older Christian’s temptation.

When I was young, I didn’t even understand bitterness. People who embraced it seemed toxic, freeze-dried, and unsavory. I couldn’t imagine ever needing the scriptural warnings about allowing no bitter root to grow up. It’s like being warned not to drink battery acid. Okay, noooo problem!

But, now I see.

As we reach mid-life, a whole new menu of temptations make themselves available to us. Each disappointment, each failure, every setback, every unanswered prayer is an opportunity to choose. Life or death. Faith or bitterness.

Bitterness. It’s always a choice.

After King David and his men had served faithfully in service, they returned home to find an enemy tribe had raided and burned their homes, taking captive their wives and children. Here’s the account from 1 Samuel 30:1-6

“ David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.”

On this side of heaven, sometimes our faithfulness is not rewarded. Instead, we find ourselves in devastating times, struggling to cope, baffled and sucker-punched by life.

When it happened to David’s men, they chose bitterness of spirit.

David faced the same situation but he found strength in the LORD his God.

I remember lying in a darkened ultra-sound room alone staring at the ceiling. I had miscarried a baby months earlier and believed I’d handled the loss with grace. Now, I learned my subsequent pregnancy was lost as well.

It was clear to me in the silence of that moment that I had a choice. No one was with me so I knew the moment was mine alone. I could accuse God of being unfair, of handing me a poisonous cup. I could yield to the temptation I felt to give myself over to a bitter spirit. Or, I could invite Him into the room with me and ask Him to walk me through the grief, hold my hand, hold my heart, hold me still until I could heal.

I’m no “Praise the Lord” Christian. It is not my first reflex (or my tenth) when facing trials to be cheerful and say “Praise the Lord, anyway!” It’s not my natural bent.

But I have learned, as I did in that moment. I am still learning as I face other challenges, that when I cannot be positive or upbeat in the face of life’s trials, I can invite Jesus in – and He comes – and I make it through to the other side – passing over the cup of bitterness.

I believe it’s an addictive brew and that my first sip may lead to an evil thirst that won’t be satisfied. I’ve seen it in others. I reject it, in the name of Jesus, for myself.

Below is a video I saw on Facebook tonight that shows a man who, I’m sure, faced the choice of bitterness or faith. By God’s grace, he chose well.

What about you? Are you gulping from the cup of bitterness to cope with life’s curveballs or do you know the wonder of walking through them with Jesus Christ?

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if theyre not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.Its a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.

read more : http://www.teamhoyt.com

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    The Conversation

  1. A choice we all do well to be reminded of. Well done.

  2. Felicia says:

    Dear Lori – we are such sisters at heart! I recall those same feelings, and I remember when God led me to Romans 8:28 and told me that He would somehow work good from the loss of my unborn babies – and I remember crying out to Him, “I don’t care what good you will bring from this; I don’t care if the loss of this one child saves every soul on the planet for eternity – I’d rather have my child!” The words were no more formed in my mind than the image of Christ on the cross came to mind and God gave me a wholly new appreciation and understanding of His sacrifice for me. I don’t look forward to the pain, but oh how I treasure these times of agony in retrospect because of how they made me cling to Him.

  3. Thank you for this, Lori. I’m not yet middle-aged, but I’ve been in ministry for a while now and have had my own disappointments and brushes with bitterness. If I’m honest, God is still healing me. The times I’ve chosen bitterness over healing are so fleeting and yet the consequences are devastating. Your post reminds me that I’m not alone and that I can choose to put on the armor of God instead of a cloak of bitterness. Thank you, thank you.