Hope - It's the antidote to bitterness and unforgiveness. Like a cleansing medicine it enables you to release the wrongs of the past and look ahead to the future with expectation of good to come. This expectation comes by putting your trust in a good God-who has planned good things for you.
"You have no right to be bitter when God plans on being so good to you!"
Those words rung loud in my head as I drove down a familiar road not far from my home. I had jumped in the car to take a short drive. I needed to get away! I needed to get somewhere I could pray and really hear God speak. I had just turned out of my neighborhood onto a familiar street when I began to beat my steering wheel and shout,
"God! I don't want to be bitter. I don't want to be bitter!"
The weeks leading up to this moment had been full of difficulty. For the first time, in ministry, I felt as if I'd been shot full of holes. I had been accused and then taken a step further and slandered. Before this (to my knowledge) everything ever said about me was true, good and bad. But this, this lie, tore me up. It was at this moment I could feel the temptation creep in to give into bitterness.
I began to see in my mind (as if watching my life as a movie) all the terrible things I had experienced, all the bad things that had happened to me, said about me, people who had turned on me and even the bad that was my fault. It was then I heard a voice say, "Go ahead be bitter. Look at all these terrible things that have happened to you. You deserve to be bitter. Anyone that has gone through what you have gone through would be bitter." It was like bait hanging out in front of me. "Yeh!", I thought. "I have had some terrible things happen in my life but I'm not a bitter person." I knew that if I gave in there was no going back or at least it would be very difficult to get back to a soft heart. In that moment I knew I needed help.
I told my husband, “I have to go for a drive” and I ran out of the house. I jumped in my car and sped off! “God I don’t want to be bitter! I don’t want to be bitter!” I yelled and cried as I beat my steering wheel. “You have no right to be bitter when God plans on being so good to you!” the Holy Spirit shot back immediately. The answer came with a rush of his presence right there in my car!
I had no right to be bitter when he plans on being so good!
I was stunned by the answer. It was so simple, so true, so right on.
I thought about it for a moment and then I began to laugh-cry in His presence in my car. That's it! That's my answer! I'm so upset about the past. I'm so upset about what people are saying about me and how they are treating me in the present and past and God is offering me a future. How can I hold on to that when I can grab hold of the future! (That he wants me to have.)
You see, when we say, "Yes, Jesus, I want to live for you and serve you," we forfeit our "right" to bitterness, unforgiveness or anything else contrary to his nature. Why? Because he has planned on being good to us, he has planned an awesome future for us in this life and a great inheritance in the life to come. However, we cut ourselves off from his plan when we give in and take the bait not realizing the bait leads to a trap that closes on us and causes more heartache, unhappiness even death on many levels.
Take Jesus for example. Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of this world and said, “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” You know what Jesus’ response was? "Get away from me!" He knew what awaited him. He knew the great things his father had in store for him and he wasn't taking the bait. That day I learned a great lesson about my Heavenly Father and about my opponent the devil. I also gained a greater expectation of the future. I settled down with a contentment I had not felt in a long time knowing some "sooo good" was headed my way! I learned that the devil lied when he said I had a "right" to be bitter. I traded that right in when I said I wanted to be a citizen of the kingdom of God. When I said, “Jesus be my Lord and savior” I signed away my right to hold unforgiveness towards anyone.
My hope for you is that you don't take the bait either. Do things the way Jesus did: Forgive, don't give in to that sneaky voice of bitterness. Trust me! You CAN afford to be generous with forgiveness and mercy when God is planning extravagant good for you! That my friend is HOPE!