"How To Deal With Bitterness” Part IV
"A Heavenly Cure -- The Heart"
"There are briers besetting every path,
Which call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee
Is happy anywhere."
Am I willing to allow God to heal those places in my heart where bitterness has caused damage?
"You can never establish a personal relationship without opening up your own heart." Paul Tournier
"The joy of the Lord, the joy that is strength, the joy that no (one) taketh from us, the joy wherewith we joy before God, the abundant joy of faith and hope and love and praise -- this it is that gathers like a radiant, fostering cheerful air around the heart that yields itself to the grace of God." Francis Paget
Years ago, when I was working as a registered nurse, I would sometimes work an extra shift in the Emergency Room each week. I'll never forget the times patients arrived in what is called, "Cardiac Arrest" and their hearts had stopped beating. When we hooked them up to a monitor, no electrical activity showed up at all. There was just a "flat line."
As we administered CPR and medications, all the team of medical specialists, working on the patient, were united in our goal to again see a "wave" appear on the monitor. Any activity at all served as an encouragement as we kept working to bring the patient's heart back to a normal rhythm, for it was the beating of the heart where the flicker of life could be seen again.
The gift of life reflected in a beating heart was also reiterated to me by my sister, who has been a Labor and Delivery nurse for 30 years. Just this week, she shared with me the information that researchers have found, that in the tissue of what will someday be the heart of a 4-week old fetus, spontaneous beats have already begun at this very early point in the development of a baby. Long before the first breath is taken, the heart is beating.
And this is what I love about our text for today in our continuing study on “How To Deal With Bitterness.” During the next few days, we are going to look at heaven's cure for the bitterness that often invades our hearts after times of grief and disappointment.
As we found out in the past few days, Naomi arrived back in Bethlehem, a broken woman. When confronted by those who knew her in earlier years, she was direct in her response, "Don't call me 'delightful' or 'pleasant'," she told people, even though this was the meaning of her name. Instead, she informed everyone to call her "mara," or "bitterness." She felt this way because she thought she was empty and furthermore, she claimed this emptiness which brought bitterness into her life, was done so by the hand of God.
After Naomi described her terrible affliction, in Ruth 1:22, we find this one sentence which ends Chapter 1 in the book of Ruth, "And they (Naomi and Ruth) came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest."
I want to focus for a time on the three specific areas in our lives that God applies His heavenly healing as He removes the toxin of bitterness. The first thing God does is start at the "beginning" -- and that "beginning" is in our heart where our life begins. I'll add that if bitterness has eaten away at your heart, and you feel like you are in a state of emotional and spiritual "cardiac arrest" and that you have "flat-lined" due to the corrosive effects of bitterness, God wants to start at the "beginning" and make all things new in your life again.
We can ask God to start at the "beginning" by inviting Him into our hearts and into those damaged crevices that are broken and bruised; despairing and despondent. In the most beautiful prayer, written by Bessie Porter Head, she says: "O Wind of God, come, bend us, break us, till humbly we confess our need; then in Your tenderness remake us, revive, restore; for this we plead."
What a place for you and me to open ourselves to the healing God offers us -- if we will only let Him begin with our heart -- as shattered as it may be and as empty as we may feel.
Perhaps, you feel the way Rosamond Herklots felt when she penned this question: "How can Your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart that broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart?" But, here was her response to this question and today may this be our response, too: "Lord, cleanse the depths within our (hearts) and bid resentment cease. Then, bound to all in bonds of love, our lives will spread Your peace."
"The happiest heart that ever beat was in some quiet breast that found the common daylight sweet, and left to Heaven the rest."
"I beg You to come into my heart, for by inspiring it to long for You, You make it ready to receive You." St. Augustine
"Dying of bitterness, lost without comfort,
Bearing the stresses that life has to give;
Walking in despair, I've no conversation,
Searching in vain for a reason to live.
Join me in my loneliness, sit down beside me,
Lord, show compassion, bring pardon and peace;
Value my friendship and give my life purpose,
Chains of my sorrow come break and release.
Bless me with joyfulness, shine in my darkness,
Lead me from sorrow out into the light;
Give me new freedom and hope for tomorrow,
Wings of an eagle to soar love's flight."
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