I’ll be the first person to tell you that there’s no sin in voicing your heartache.
In fact, I am a firm believer that if we don’t exhale sadness, frustration, doubt and despair there is no room to inhale the strength and grace of God.
But there is a place where honest lament can cross over into questioning the character of our ever faithful, loving Heavenly Father.
The writer of Hebrews addresses that danger in these verses.
In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.Hebrews 12: 14-15 TPT
Hebrews 12 follows what is often called the “Hall of Faith” where the writer lists many of those previously chronicled in Scripture (and adds at the end there are really too many to mention) as heroes of the faith. The theme that runs through THAT chapter is that even those who lived and died after Jesus ascended into Heaven, did not attain the fullness of every promise of God.
Some saw one promise or another fulfilled but it will not be until Christ’s kingdom comes in its final form that ALL promises will be made manifest.
So the writer of Hebrews continues in Chapter 12 referencing the previous chapter, “Since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses…” meaning now that you have excellent examples in mind, let me tell you something else.
He goes on to remind us that life is and will be hard.
He talks about some hardships being the result of sin and God’s discipline (not every bad thing is the result of personal sin as you and I both know). He cautions us not to harden our hearts against God because things are not as we wish them to be nor hope they would be. (Remember that there is unbelievable persecution going on at this point in history when the book was written.)
Finally we come to Hebrews 12: 15: “Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many. ” TPT
So what IS the “root of bitterness”?
I believe the root of bitterness is turning away from the truth that God is faithful, loving, gracious and good.
Once a heart denies THAT, it is easily led away from the grace of God and the mercy of God.
The bitter root bears bitter fruit and has the potential to defile everyone around us and beyond.
Because when a heart embraces bitterness, it is never content to be bitter alone. It offers up the wretched fruit to anyone who will taste it.
Circumstances that perplex us need not drive us to despair. Instead, they can take us to new depths of faith. They challenge us to trust solely in the promises of God, rather than creating a god of our own design in order to make sense of what perplexes us. …After all, attempting to always make sense of God’s mysterious purposes isn’t actually faith. It’s accepting only the parts of God that we are comfortable with or can explain to ourselves. If God is God and if you and I are not, then we can accept that our limited vision will see only a snapshot in time, while our sovereign Lord has created, upheld, sustained, purposefully determined, and worked through every moment from the beginning of time. Faith is not living a life without feeling perplexed; it is to live in trust while feeling perplexed~Kristin Wetherell & Sarah Walton, Hope When It Hurts, p. 56
I admit there are many things about life which perplex me. I wonder why this person is spared and that person is not.
If I focus on what I don’t know instead of the God I know I can trust, my heart will lead me down a dark path.
But when I focus on Jesus in my brokenness and despair, bringing my lament to the Throne of Grace, trusting that even though I can’t trace His hand I can rest secure in His love toward me, I cultivate a root of faith.
Then my life bears the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.