The Bitter Seed

8 Oct

I sat there wondering — if bitterness took root in my heart, would I recognize it?

I had just finished reading about Esau in Genesis 25. Esau was a bitter guy. Many of us might even think, rightfully so. His bitterness was easy to recognize as I read the story of his life.

Esau and Jacob were twins born to Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was delivered first, making him the eldest son. Many benefits came with being the oldest child – a larger percentage of the inheritance, the privilege and responsibility of becoming the family’s leader some day, and the honor that came with the birthright of the first born.

One day when Esau had come in from hunting and was very hungry, Jacob convinced Esau to hand over his birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. {Seems like a pretty uneven trade to me, but hey – when I’m hungry, I can do crazy things, too!} Many years later, when Isaac was old and dying, he planned to restore Esau’s birthright to him through a blessing. When Rebekah and Jacob found out, they tricked Isaac and he actually blessed Jacob with the birthright, instead.

While we may feel sorry for Esau because it seemed he was taken advantage of {and he was}, he also made many bad choices throughout his life that only compounded his difficulties. His decisions were likely influenced by bitterness.

Most of us have had experiences that could have or did make us bitter. Carston Wrosch writes:

Bitterness follows unwanted experiences—failures, disappointment, setbacks—that are perceived to be beyond one’s control.

Have you ever had something negative happen to you that you believed to be beyond your control? Right now, cancer is at the top of my could-make-me-bitter list. Didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it, don’t like it. Most people wouldn’t blame me for feeling bitter.

Bitterness is a sneaky emotion that can be especially insidious for cancer patients as we ask the questions why me? why this? why now? This can be especially true when we look around us to see our friends continuing on with their good, healthy lives. It is then that we can begin to feel the first taste of bitterness.

It’s taste is comforting at first. The self-pity that is at the heart of all bitterness is an old, familiar friend. We allow it to stay for a few days, and before we know it – Ms. Bitter has moved all of her belongings in for a long stay. The reach of bitterness is broad. It rarely stops by affecting the wounded or offended person, but spreads to many who come in contact with the bitter person.

Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. – Hebrews 12:15

I could be bitter about this cancer experience, but by doing so I would be compounding my problems. A bitter heart dwells on the negative. A bitter spirit constantly complains. A bitter soul ignores God’s blessings. Allowing bitterness to take root in my heart takes more from my life than cancer ever will – it takes away my ability to be thankful.

Maybe your experience is not cancer. Maybe it’s infertility or job loss or some other painful, unfair experience. Stay alert to the seeds of bitterness and don’t let them take root. Focus on the good in your life and don’t give in to the bad. The situation may feel out of your control, but choosing to not become bitter is completely within your control.

Happy Monday! Make it a good one!
♥ Rachel



6 Responses to “The Bitter Seed”

  1. faithhopes October 8, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Rachel, Exactly right my friend. Bitterness will choke out the life that we are meant to live in victory.

    • rachturner October 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm #


  2. Charlotte Askew October 8, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Rachel, I loved this post. I loved that you shared how bitterness can take root and what it can do to a person. You are so right and I thank God that you recognize the vile of bitterness that is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. I shared this on my FB page for others to read. I think that all too often we don’t recognize that we are letting bitterness take over our lives. Not only does “she” move in but she will eat you alive if you are not careful. I am proud of you that you don’t let the big C steal your joy. My husband was dealing with colon cancer this time last year and they were giving him an aggressive chemo to combat it. I fought everyday to keep him from letting it consume his life. I know the battle that you deal with daily. Praising God for you.

    • rachturner October 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

      Thank you so much for your words, Charlotte! Your husband was blessed to have you by his side during treatment. It is crazy easy to become bitter, especially when confronted with a life-threatening situation. The key is to remember that becoming bitter will not help us heal – it will only harm our bodies even more. Thank you for your encouragement today!

  3. Renee November 3, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I hoped over from Kris Camealy’s Encore blog hop to read this and am so glad I did! I am wrestling with painful disappointments right now, also. But your experience with cancer puts my struggles into perspective. Thanks for this great teaching/reminder of the danger of focusing on those un-answered “why me” questions and growing bitter. Also, thanks for visiting me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!

    • rachturner November 5, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Thank you so much for visiting, Renee! I am very sorry about your disappointments. True – not all disappointments are like cancer – but they are all painful nonetheless. Saying a prayer for you now. :)

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