Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 22 - The Bitter Pill of Resentment

“Long enough, God - you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me. Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, so no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face."                 Psalm 13:2-3 (The Message)         

Resentment comes in many shapes and sizes.  For some it is born out of years of being passed over for promotions at work.  For others, we see it rear it’s ugly head when we are surrounded by people that have more than we do; people who spend their money as if they had a never ending supply, while we struggle to barely make ends meet.  And yet for others, resentment is realized when we acknowledge the blackness of our own hearts as we secretly covet the lives of others whose burdens “seem” light.  But, regardless of the cause, one thing is always certain: resentment is a poison in your spirit, ripe with discontent. And, more times than not, our discontent displays itself for the world to see.  Anger, bitterness, jealousy, irritation, and wounded pride are all symptoms of a much bigger problem - self-centeredness.

I think all of us can agree that self-centeredness is not a biblical principle.  In fact, it’s counter-intuitive to the Gospel, which builds everything around Jesus’ relentless teachings of humility and the serving of others. Instead, our self-centeredness is a worldly cultivation; some would even argue it to be a pure example of humanism that hinges on an entitlement of “fairness.”  But, if we know anything about Jesus and the life He led, we know that fairness isn’t even in the equation.  His final hours, the pain and torture he endured, are unfathomable to me… even if He was guilty of a crime.  As I sit here and write, I can’t help but picture myself in a situation where I’m being beaten within an inch of my life for a crime I did not commit.  I can imagine the hatred that would consume my body and darken my soul.  And yet, I’m painfully reminded of Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34 (NKJV)

I’m also painfully reminded of Matthew 5:23-24, which states: “…If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (The Message) When reading this passage, I can't help but think about all the times I've put up walls, or turned my back, because of my resentment toward others.  How many nights have I gone to bed angry with my husband?  How many calls have I screened from friends that have slighted me?  How many times have I given someone the silent treatment... just to prove a point?  When we allow resentment to grab a hold of our hearts, we often times close the door on the people in our lives.  However, the painful reality is that we are also closing the door on God.    

Spend time asking Jesus to gently stir your heart on the stronghold of resentment.  If you are doing this challenge as a family, discuss with your children how resentment not only hinders our relationships with other people, but how it hinders our relationship with God.  Spend time praying as a family for God’s grace to heal your hearts and open your eyes to relationships that need to be reconciled.  God is faithful and powerful and He specializes in miracles.  With Him, nothing is impossible.

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