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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2,000 Years!?

This summer I read a powerful book called The Hidden Life by Bryan Fraser. One of the chapter's discusses bitterness and the importance of dealing with it. How do we deal with bitterness in today's society? Do we ever really deal?

Let's take a look at our good friends Jacob and Esau. What an interesting set of siblings. Esau just about lost his mind when Jacob conned both him and his father, Isaac. Filled with deep animosity towards his brother, he vows to help him into the grave after his father passes away. Jacob wastes no time skipping town.

He goes through some character building trials in which he in turn gets conned. Finally the time comes when he would be reunited with Esau. Would they clash? Would they forgive? Would there be indifference? So many questions.

We can see in Genesis 33 how things turn out. There is not blood shed but instead we find conversation. Yet, there is something missing from this conversation. No ISSUE IS DISCUSSED. 

"How is the weather?" Esau
"Great," Jacob
"I see you have a lot of kids," Jacob
"Yes, God has been very good to me." Esau
"Business doing well?" Esau
"We have had our ups and downs, but overall I can't complain." Jacob

Wow, that is one seriously life changing resolution....

Fraser notes that bitterness comes in two forms. 1) The bitter person maintains that everything is just fine and that there is nothing to forgive. Ex: I've put it behind me. 2) The bitter person justifies that they have every right to be bitter. That state can become comfortable and enjoyable. Reality is that ignoring or reveling in a problem will not make it go away.

Ignoring the issue will not encourage kindness and patience, nor love and humility. So, how can we foster a Christ-like spirit with bitterness in our heart? We can't, to be matter of fact.

"Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh." James 3:11-12

We have got to let it go. Seriously. Bitterness is like a ticking time tomb just waiting to go off on the same person coddling it like a child. 

But wait, the story does not end there. Esau's descendants, the Edomites, appear after about 500 years in Numbers, but the bitterness has bloomed. But it does not end there. There is a whole book of the Bible dedicated to Mr. Tension, the book of Obadiah. Let's stop yet though, there is the grand finale! We are now in the final hours of Jesus' life. Not wanting to get involved and learning that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate send him to Herod Antipas who was..... drum roll.... an EDOMITE. Look at that, bitterness emerging once again.

I think the morale of the story is quite clear. God does not want us to be bitter for that long. It was not Jacob and Esau, it was the negativity that they shared with their children. It was the lack of communication that they said was ok that they passed on. Then their kids in turn adapted those feelings and kept the cycle going generation after generation- millennium after millennium.

2,000 years.

Father, your children need to let things go. We need to purge anger, resentment, bitterness, animosity, coldness, indifference, and all the rest of it out of our systems. There is no room for that foolishness and you desire a better life for us. A life in which happiness is rooted in peace. Help us Lord. Amen.

Let this be our prayer-- peace like still waters.

Is there anything that God is pleading with you to release? Post a comment and I will add that to my prayer list.

photo credit: Storm Crypt via photopin cc
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

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