Yesterday we talked about negativity, and by looking at the actions of Job’s wife in the book of Job, we saw that negativity pulls my attention from what I do have, the blessing and goodness of God, and focuses it instead on what I don’t have. Today the obstacle to having a thankful attitude that I want to talk about is bitterness.
Bitterness focuses my attention on what I think I should have instead of what I actually do have.
As female believers I’m sure we’re all at least a little familiar with the story of Ruth. (If you’re not, Allie wrote a great post about Bianca Olthoff’s study here.) In the book of Ruth we meet Naomi, a woman from Bethlehem who leaves her home and friends to travel with her husband and two sons to the land of Moab to escape a famine. Over the course of the next few years her sons get married to Moabite women (Orpah and Ruth) and then in a tragic turn both Naomi’s husband and two sons die and Naomi is left in a strange land alone. Upon her return to Bethlehem a few verses later (daughter-in-law Ruth in tow) Naomi is greeted by an excited group of townspeople, ready to welcome her back home, and I think her response is really indicative of her attitude. ‘”Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”‘
Instead of taking a moment to appreciate the friends and loved ones who had shown up to welcome her home, Naomi immediately shut them down and reminded them of the circumstances she had come home under. Have you ever been so consumed by where you thought your life should be that you lost sight of what blessings you still had? Naomi wasn’t supposed to be returning home a widow, she wasn’t supposed to be dependent on her daughter-in-law working for food to survive. She was supposed to be living out her old age provided for by her two sons and bragging to her friends about her grandchildren’s exploits-not telling them that she would never have grandchildren and that her sons were dead. The should–have-beens and could-have-beens were eating Naomi up inside because she had lost sight of who her God was and that He is a God who redeems.
If Naomi could only have seen past her situation she would have seen what amazing blessings that God had in store for her on the other side of her bitterness. A few short chapters later and Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth is married to the hallmark hunk that is Boaz, and the two of them have a baby boy named Obed. The women of the town whom Naomi told to call her “bitter” are now saying the following: “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today….He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed your daughter-in-law who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him [Obed].”
Just like Naomi, God has a plan to move you past the things that you think you should have had by now. His plan and timing might not look the way we would design it ourselves but ultimately His will is to take our situation-renew it and be glorified through it. What areas in your life have the should–have-beens and could-have-beens started stealing your joy and replacing it with bitterness? If you could take a moment to see past the bitterness what future blessings could God be preparing you for?