Digging Up the Root of Bitterness

March 30th, 2014

…“lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” Hebrews 12:15b

It’s ironic how the season of Lent coincides with the change of seasons from winter to spring. The change of seasons causes Mother Nature to transition from the cold weather which causes plants and animals to lie dormant for several months to warmer weather. But as soon as the rain comes, everything desirable and undesirable appears in the flower bed! The weeds we thought we killed with pesticide last year just keep cropping right back up.

I am thoroughly convinced that the root of bitterness is one of the most deadly and common issues gripping the hearts of people. Bitterness knows no age. It can be described as something pointed, sharp and keen, irritating, extremely wicked or deep sorrow and grief affecting the emotions and mental state. It is a seed of painful experiences, hurt, and disappointment which latches on to the heart, mind, emotions, and even our physical body. It becomes rooted when it seeps into the inner person and consumes our thought life, affecting our decisions, and relationships. Bitterness is not just symptomatic, but is a root identified by symptoms.

For example, last summer, I decided to clean out the planters on my deck. Each planter was filled with weeds along with my beautiful ivy and greenery. As I dug into the dirt, I could not distinguish the difference in the roots of the weeds from the decorative greenery. On the surface, everything was cleaned out, but although I dug into the dirt, there were remnants of roots. So I left it to see what would come up the next spring. Sure enough, some of the greenery sporadically sprang up along with the weeds. That’s what happens with the root bitterness. I have learned that you just can’t cut the top of a weed; you have to pull it up from the roots.

Do you know what’s rooted in the garden of your heart?

From the root of bitterness springs anger, wrath, ill speaking, cursing, hatred, envy, and jealousy. Bitterness can also be the seed of many diseases, mental illness, and emotional instability. Many of these symptoms are treated with medication, drug and alcohol addiction, even destructive behaviors. Broken marriages and families, division in religious and secular organizations such as churches, government, or social groups, as well as drama on the job, can all be affected by the bitterness of the individuals involved.

The thing about roots is that they grow beneath the surface, hidden to the naked eye. They also grow downward and become firmly established before growing up and producing fruit. Roots will spring up and the plant affect everyone around it. And so it is with bitterness.

In dealing with this root of bitterness, you must first deal with yourself and what is in your heart. Are you still harboring hurt and pain from childhood issues with parents, rejection and bullying in school, social ills, and even parental neglect, sexual, and verbal abuse? Have you gone through the pain of divorce, death of loved ones, being mistreated or overlooked on your job, or economic failures? Are you dealing with sickness or a physical handicap? The question is what has it produced in your heart? In order for you to move on, you can’t just deal with the external factors of life, you must deal with yourself. Identify the poison of your emotions and take control of your own life. You are not responsible for the shortcomings of other people, but you can do something about your own life, health, and emotions.

Secondly, forgive those who hurt you. I am reminded of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who suffered and died on the cross. He was severely mistreated, but He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” In other words, even if people hurt you deliberately, they still may not understand what they are doing. They may think their behavior is acceptable, but eventually, evil comes back when evil is planted. But there are also unintentional hurts. The secret to healing is to release your hurt and the need to retaliate so that it does not take root in your soul. And of course, forgive yourself. Life happens and you can’t turn the clock back to fix things.

Lastly, learn to trust God. Offenses in life will come! I believe that there is power in professional counseling, and should be utilized if necessary. We really need to rebuke the stigma that your faith is weak if you need psychological services. But I believe that effective tools in digging up the root of bitterness are to spend time in prayer and the study of scripture as you release your emotions and the situation to God. You must believe that God knows your situation.

Years ago I was dealing with a very distressing situation. I was led to study the book of Psalms to discover how King David first dealt with his disappointment, and how he prayed for his enemies. So to safeguard my emotions against bitterness, I read through the Psalms, and prayed David’s prayers. This helped me to release my emotions and disappointments to God. Through this, I learned how to love and forgive, and feel compassion toward my offender. It really works!

Everything that happens in your life, the good, the bad and the ugly will all work together for good to bring you to your God intended destiny. So don’t sweat it…today, just dig up that root of bitterness and let God do the replanting!

Prayer: Father, thank you for deliverance from the root of bitterness. Amen

comments powered by Disqus