The Bitter Battle

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Ephesians 4:31

Do you ever struggle against bitterness? My own struggle could have been called the bitter battle of the suffering saint-although now I prefer to call it the better battle of the recovering masochist.

Actually, I think I hid my bitterness pretty well most of the time. Even my closest friends would have told you that I was a happy person who nearly always had a kind word and a contagious laugh-and that really is part of who I am. But there was also another person inside me-a bitter woman who felt life should treat her better since she tried so hard to do what was right. My bitterness was private, but I know it influenced my loved ones. Hidden feelings often have a profound effect on our own lives and the lives of others.

Looking back now, I realize I was trying to play God and decide what results I should get for the efforts I had exerted. Through prayer, Bible study, and quite a bit of self confrontation, I finally began to let God be God. I realized I’m not smart enough, nor is it my place, to figure out what is fair and what isn’t.

Do you have bitterness? Don’t let it get the best of you. Give it to God. He knows what to do with it.

Thought: I will let go of my secret bitterness today. I will trust God to even things out in His own way and His own timing.


Growth Means Change


Therefore a man shall…be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

“What you see is what you get.”

“If you don’t like the way I am, leave.”

“You knew what I was like when you married me.”

All these statements are part of the “All about me generation”. When we marry we become one flesh. To do that, we obviously have to change. And change must happen if we want to grow in our relationship with each other. Change doesn’t mean one person puts his or her brain into neutral and lets the partner do all the thinking. But a beautiful change occurs in a marriage when each partner humbly sees characteristics in his or her partner that are worth emulating. For instance, if one member of the couple is a listener and one is a talker, wonderful things can happen as they observe these strengths in each other. The talker learns to talk a little less and the listener learns to listen less and talk more. They grow together as one complements the other.

Growing in any relationship means changing. How beautiful a newborn baby is-but how sad it would be if the new baby never changed its appearance. And how sad it would be if a new relationship just aged, but never grew and changed.

Thought: Growth means change. What would be a reasonable goal for change in my life today?

Confess, Not Regress


I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalms 32:5

A few years ago, I experienced a major financial setback. It was only partly my fault, but I felt responsible-furious with myself. And I soon found myself slipping back into old, self defeating behaviors such as rehearsing my failure over and over again to God. A loving friend who heard me praying asked,” Don’t you believe that once you have confessed this area to the Lord, He wipes the slate clean? Are you trying to pay penance?” That was exactly what I was doing. I also was downgrading myself for not being perfect, trying to make up for my failure by working harder, and becoming irritable toward those I loved-another old pattern.

One day I stopped my frantic activity and did a self-evaluation. I had to admit that in response to this crisis I had regressed-fallen back into old, dysfunctional habits. What I needed to do instead was to fall back on the stability of God’s grace. I needed to confess my failure but affirm my value. I needed to move toward relationship rather than away from it or against it. And I needed to say, “Of course I made a mistake. I”m human. Only God is perfect.” Once I did that, I could begin to deal with the consequences of my poor choices and put them behind me.

Prayer: Lord, when I face my weaknesses and mistakes, help me to confess rather than to regress.


Human Chameleons

Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galations 6:9

Chameleons are animals that can change colors depending on the setting they are in. God created them to do that as a protection against their enemies. They blend into rocks or grass and can be almost invisible to the untrained eye.

Mary would have liked to be a chameleon-to blend into every situation. Mary thought that if she could become whatever those around her expected her to be, then she would be loved by everyone. She avoided any situation where she might lose the “loved and respected” title. She defined happiness as having the whole world’s admiration.

Let’s look at the truth. Jesus Christ was perfect. But was He a chameleon? No! Was He loved and respected by everyone? No! In fact, He was hated, resented, and ultimately crucified.

God didn’t create human beings to blend in with their surroundings. He made each of us unique, and His goal for us is to become the best we can be-not like everyone else. He wants us to stand up in a crowd when we feel we’re right. He wants us to be like Christ, secure in our mission and secure in the One who sent us on that mission.

Thought: I will determine today to not lose heart. I will keep doing what is right, not necessarily what people expect.

Good Out Of Bad

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Romans 8:28

Do bad things happen to good people? Yes. Do good things happen to bad people? Yes. One of the most difficult concepts to grasp is that life is not always fair. As children, we were obsessed with everything being fair, but it wasn’t. Life wasn’t fair when we were children and it still isn’t fair now that we’re adults.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Theologians give us three reasons. It might be because God wants to show us His power. Sometimes God wants to use the incident to help us mature. And sometimes bad things happen because of our own sin.

Whatever the reason bad things happen, here is a truth we can always rely on: God can bring good out of bad. We can’t be sure, in our limited human perspective why things happen. But we can be sure that God is with us. We can also be sure that no matter what happens, God loves us. He will help us overcome-not be overcome by-our problems in life.

Thought: God will bring good out of bad when we are committed to His purpose in our lives.




Time to Grieve

And you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.

John 16:20

One night during my husband’s last year of medical school, I was watching the ten o’clock news on television. The commentator announced the need for a couple to live with eight girls in a nicely furnished home. When Paul came home from his rotation at the hospital, I excitedly told him I had found a job for us. After some calls we got the job.

A word of caution, if you hear about a job on the ten o’clock news, you know there must be some drawbacks. There were! Our girls came from emotionally bankrupt homes. One had been sexually molested. Another had been passed from foster home to foster home. Still another had been beaten by both parents. Paul and I though that if we showered these girls with affirmation and provided well for them materially they would be forever grateful. So we couldn’t understand why they weren’t instantly overjoyed in their new home with us. We now know that even though the girls did appreciate us, they needed time to work through the pain of their losses before they could truly start their lives over. Lost things and people can never be totally replaced. Before we can go on, therefore, we must mourn our losses.

Thought: I must grieve over my lost relationships if I want to grow into new ones.

Learning Patience

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:4

One of the hardest things we have to do in this life is to learn to live with and love ourselves in a healthy way. How can we do this? One of the keys is patience.

Patience is a virtue few of us have enough of, especially with ourselves. “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet” is a saying we should repeat to ourselves daily.

It helps to keep an eternal perspective. We won’t be “finished” in this lifetime. With God’s help, we can keep headed in that direction, especially as we persevere on the journey. And we can take comfort in His promise that “the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory…[will] perfect,establish, strengthen, and settle” us. With that kind of promise, we can afford to be patient.

God wants us to acknowledge His part in our lives and be grateful for the good we see. But our tendency is to judge ourselves by how far we have to go rather than how far we’ve come. Let’s thank God daily for the progress we’re making-and resolve to keep moving, with His love and guidance.

Thought: Today I will try to be patient with myself and others, knowing that God is patient with me. I will thank Him for the good work He is doing in my life.


Cheerful Giving


Let each one give…not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

II Corinthians 9:7

Giving is a perplexing for women on the journey. It seems like we’ve been giving too much our whole lives, and that doesn’t feel good at all. So, what are we supposed to do, quit giving? No! We must relearn how to give! So many times in the past, we gave with an outlook of wanting others to see how much we were giving so they would applaud and ask admiringly, “How could you ever give so much?” Or we would give because we thought we had to in order to be loved-but resented the giving.

God loves a cheerful giver. Let’s search our hearts and consult with wise friends and decide daily how much we can give of ourselves to others. Our goal in giving should be to do it willingly, not reluctantly or under pressure. Hopefully, we can retrain our heart feelings so that we can decide from our hearts what to give cheerfully and joyfully.

We’re also told in I Chronicles 29:18-20 to give expectantly. This is a confusing thought for some of us. Perhaps it will help to think of the differences between “expect” and “demand.” To expect God to give back to us as we have given is to do as He has told us. To demand that God give certain things to us because we have given to Him will certainly end in disappointment.

Thought: When we give to God today,we can expect to receive His gifts in our tomorrows.