The Box Of Bitterness
About 10 years ago, I was ministering to a female friend and neighbor about forgiveness. She had been abused very badly by several men in her life, the worst being her own Father when she was young.
I believe that people who purposely and continually hurt and abuse others, are internally hurt and broken themselves. My friend's father was one of those people who was seriously hurt and broken inside.
Many children, though they are victims, somehow feel responsible for the actions caused because of the brokenness of their parents. I believe this feeling of responsibility often causes children to willingly accept the abuse.
Tragically, my friends father had passed much his inner hurt and pain down to her through his years of abuse. This is a typical example of the generational curse of abuse being handed down to the next generation.
I believe that God has placed a strong desire in the maternal instinct of women, to try and repair broken people. This instinct often draws young women towards men who seem to be broken like their fathers. Seemingly, they are not broken as badly. Their attraction toward these men, besides love, is also that they see many of the good qualities their father has.
A woman often believes in her heart, that she can fix her man's problems once they're married. At best, she is probably facing a lifetime of drama and trauma, unless God enters into that relationship.
I shared the above information with my neighbor and she nodded in agreement and told me that yes, I had pretty much just described her life. I then tried my utmost, to gently share her need to forgive those men who had hurt and abused her.
The mention of forgiveness abruptly ended our conversation. She stood up, tearfully declared "Absolutely not," then left.
I believe that unresolved anger can turn into hatred and bitterness. Harboring that hatred and bitterness in our heart makes us judgmental. John 3, teaches that hatred is the same spirit as murder.
There are numerous scriptural references warning us not to allow a "Root of bitterness" to grow up and take hold of our hearts. The Bible say's this root of bitterness will "defile many."
Let me share a physical example of this spiritual principle. Imagine being the fifteenth person stuffed into a fifteen person elevator. Unbeknown to you, a person in the back of the elevator has a deadly, contagious, airborne disease. They suddenly begin to sneeze uncontrollably, over and over, right toward you.
They say that between 40,000 to 100,000 germs go airborne with every sneeze. By the end of that elevator ride, you and everyone else is now at risk of becoming infected with that same contagious disease.
Now compare that elevator ride to a person who has a root or "spirit" of bitterness in their heart, caused by hurt and the unwillingness to forgive. That spirit eventually takes dominion and like a contagious disease, eats away at the person's heart and soul.
They slowly lose their joy, happiness, zeal for life and begin to turn cynical. Eventually they will run the risk of contracting mental or physical ailments and addictions. That spirit of bitterness defiles and "spiritually" infects others around them, similar to the sneezing person on the elevator.
Matthew 7, tells us "Judge not, lest you be judged...." The scripture continues on to point out a crucially important principle. In the same fashion that we choose to either judge or forgive others, God will judge or forgive us. Everything in life is based on cause and effect.
After contemplating all these thoughts, I suddenly began to envision in my mind what the Lord told me was a "Box of bitterness."
If we choose to judge and take out vigilante justice on another person, in essence we spiritually make that person climb into this "box of bitterness." God in turn, makes us climb right into that same box with them. As we judge and choose to punish them, we are also punishing ourselves.
There's an old Bobby Bare song called "The Winner." Two men got into a huge bar fight and the result was, "He was cursin' and nursin' 7 broken bones, but he only broke 3 of mine, so I'm the winner."
I usually chuckle when I hear that song being played. Truthfully though, it makes a good point about the cost of suffering from self inflicted pain to teach someone a lesson. The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm.
There are many scriptures throughout the Bible declaring how God wants to take up our cause and fight for us, if we let Him. "Vengeance is mine says the Lord." Just like in our American legal system, if we take the law into our own hands then we ourselves become subject to the law.
How do we get ourselves back out of the box of bitterness? The answer is simple, we follow the principles that God shows us in the Bible. We choose to stop judging, forgive, and then turn the matter over to God. Only then, can we climb out of the box.
Forgiving someone, in no way means that we are now declaring that nothing ever happened or that no harm was ever done to us. We are simply turning the whole matter over to God. God can now judge and bring the matter to justice as He deems fit.
My same friend came back a couple weeks later and she was very distraught. She had just undergone a series of unsuccessful wrestling matches with God, over the issue of her unwillingness to forgive her father.
I shared with her my new revelation about the box of bitterness and she listened quietly with intent. She agreed in principle, but felt that forgiving the man who hurt her was letting him walk away free and clear, like nothing had ever happened.
The Lord gave me the perfect response. I asked her to consider the scriptures that talk about God coming to our rescue when we cry out to Him in prayer. I used the illustration from Daniel 9-10, where Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days, desperately seeking God's help and guidance.
The Angel Gabriel arrived in person with the answer that Daniel had requested. Gabriel said that he was dispatched immediately upon God hearing Daniel's request, but was held up along the way by a demonic entity that he was forced to battle.
The point being, when we pray and ask for God's help, God dispatches His angels to answer our prayer requests. I then asked my friend to envision herself standing face to face with the person she was the most angry and bitter against.
Then I said, envision now that God has just sent an angel to help you, and that he is standing directly behind you. This angel has a special bow in his hand loaded with a fiery arrow. God has instructed him to shoot the arrow into the persons heart that hurt you.
The angel cannot do this however, because you are standing directly in his path. For the angel to finish his mission, the path must be cleared. The blockage is actually your unforgiveness and your judgment against the person that you are bitter against. You must choose to forgive.
The important fact is that after we do forgive, we can then be loosed from the spiritual bondage, and the physical and emotional trauma attached to that bitterness. God can then begin to fully heal our broken hearts, remove all of our hurts, and cast away all the dreadful memories that tagged along with them.
Forgiveness is about us being spiritually set free so that we are able to receive God's healing and deliverance. This is all part of the fullness of our salvation.
Ultimate forgiveness is what Jesus showed us on the cross when He lovingly declared..."Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
My friend then allowed me to pray with her. She asked God's forgiveness for harboring bitterness and unforgiveness toward her father. She forgave her father for what he had done and then asked God to heal the brokenness in her father's heart as well as her own. She also asked God to end the cycle of that generational curse of abuse in her family.
Understanding this principle of forgiveness, allowed my friend to get up and go on with her life. Actively applying this principle to her life, allowed God to clear her path for His restoration.
I have personally seen and experienced many miraculous spiritual and physical healings. I am always amazed to witness the love and power of God, when the truth of His Word is acted upon in faith.