Thursday, January 7, 2016

Have You Become Bitter? Overcome it With a Thankful Heart

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  –Philippians 4:11

We are finally experiencing the first truly cold weather of winter, and like it or not, we are bound to have to deal with it for the next few months. I was outside yesterday breathing the cold air and considering how it felt.  This air has an arctic feel to it, which makes sense, because according to the people who are weather experts, the freezing air is blowing down from out of the north and we are indeed feeling it. 

I was sitting on my couch the other night, looking at my two dogs, one curled up beside me on the couch (she isn’t supposed to be on the furniture), and the other snoozing comfortably on the floor.  We are the type of dog people who allow our dogs to reside indoors, much to their delight, especially on cold nights like that one.  I know there are many of my friends who have dogs and while they may not allow them inside the house, they make sure they have a place to sleep outside to escape this harsh weather.  I admit there are times when I feel a little guilty about how comfortable my dogs live when there are countless people in the world, many in my own community, who go without proper food, clothing, and shelter.  Assisting those in need is an ongoing challenge and Jesus said we are to reach out to those needs however possible (Matthew 25:35-40).  Jesus also said the poor we will always have with us (Matthew 26:11), so the needs will always be there.  Christ calls us to be aware of the needs around us and seek to reach out to others in any way possible.  We can all be involved by assisting local charities, food drives, and volunteering at homeless shelters.  Compared with millions of people in the world who go daily without basic life necessities, I live like a king.  Therefore my dogs, who reside with me, do as well.

I write often of how we all go through life struggles, and in the midst of them we easily become discouraged.  Never forget there is hope in the Lord; He brought you through and He will do so again.  Unless we are careful, we become bitter, and bitterness is an ugly condition, especially for anyone desiring to walk by faith and live victoriously.  Recognize the signs of bitterness:

  •       Negativity
  •     Cynicism
  •     Unwillingness to forgive
  •     Misdirected anger towards those we love
  •     Disrupted sleep patterns
  •     Loss of appetite or seeking comfort in food
  •     Anger at God

All of these are warning signs that bitterness has taken hold of us.  God’s Word warns us of ever being on our guard lest a bitter root take hold in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).  By faith, we rise up and with God’s help overcome bitterness and all its ugly characteristics.  When you feel bitterness setting in, stop and take a look at what you have.  Like me, most of you reading this have much to be thankful for.  Stop and count your many blessings.  Learn daily to develop a thankful heart, which leads to a positive outlook.  I am striving to learn, as did Paul the Apostle, that with God’s help, I can be contented in any and all circumstances.  

Look up, be thankful, and trust the Lord each day.

God bless you.

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