Broken or Bitter?

Every so often (or, perhaps seemingly quite often), God graciously allows our circumstances to fall apart. If God is powerful enough and big enough to create the universe, then He is powerful enough and big enough to control the events of life. So, when we are slapped in the face with hard, painful things, we are also slapped in the face with the reality that God could have prevented our pain. Knowing that God is good (the cross of Jesus screams that reality quite well), He must be up to something when He doesn’t prevent or stop our pain.

And, often, that something is quite mysterious to us. But, it is in those moments, we are always faced with a choice. Will we become broken or bitter?

God’s gracious desire is that we become broken … broken to self and broken to dreams and plans that are inferior to the plans and dreams that He has for us. Unfortunately, for our desiring to know and control everything minds, His plans are mysterious and perhaps even too wonderful for us to grasp.

Bitterness is the response to broken dreams and plans that says, “I am my pain. I am my circumstances.” Whenever our identity, or the way we define ourselves, gets wrapped up in our circumstances — there is a bitterness that can set in. We identify with the dream of being married and so, a bitterness sets in when it doesn’t happen the way we dreamed it up. Or, we identify with having a certain lifestyle or job.

God desires to strip us of identification with what we do or what we have or what others think of us so that we could enter the joy of identifying with Him. That is brokenness … the process of coming to end of self and beginning to adopt God as our identity.

In Hosea 7:14, we find these words from God about the people of Israel … “They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds; for grain and wine they gash themselves; they rebel against me.”

Brokenness is to cry out from the heart … to be broken to ourselves and our dreams – to cry out to God from the heart, “O God, I desire You.” Bitterness is to wail upon the bed – to say, “look at my life, it’s horrible.” We frequently use the word broken to describe a life that is messy or hard (i.e., broken) but that’s often just a disguised bitterness. True brokenness is a heart that is broken and open to what God desires.

This can seem very harsh of God but it is actually a deep, deep graciousness … the great writer and thinker of the early 20th century Simone Weil said this, “Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes the void.”


~ by Ted Wueste on March 12, 2012.

4 Responses to “Broken or Bitter?”

  1. Wow! This is just what I needed to hear! I say I want to follow God and do His will but when things don’t go as I see them then what? It is time for me to stop hiding behind bitterness and acknowledge God the creator of the world has a wonderful plan for my life and it is okay when it isn’t inline with my plan. It is about brokenness and grace not about circumstances.

  2. Well said Ted. Thanks for this. It will run around in my mind and heart all day (and probably longer).

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