Job 10:1-3 – I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked? ESV
This is Job speaking, a man who has lost his considerable wealth, his children and his health. He is left with a wife who told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9) and four foolish friends. He had what we might call a good reason to be bitter; we would understand why he might be cynical, resentful, indignant and generally angry.
One of the most frequent responses to being hurt by others is to internally recognize that we have lost something. We may not consciously recognize this, especially if we are young. Then as whatever we have lost is not recovered, an attitude of bitterness can develop. And as is common with other destructive attitudes, our bitterness takes on a life of its own within us, and for some it even takes over as their predominant attitude.
In our scripture Job says something that so many of us who have been hurt by others might say. We are going to paraphrase here. “I hate my life, and God, please don’t fight with me over this, but I’m going to tell you how bitter I am at what you’ve done to me. Does it seem good to you to put me down this way, when you made me; and then give the wicked favor?”
As we read this let’s be cognizant of the truth that God is the author of all scripture, including these words of Job, that seem to blame Him for the trouble in Job’s life. (All scripture is God-breathed, 2 Tim 3:16-17) There is a great lesson of life for us who have been hurt by the actions of others. God has placed these words here for us to emulate, and to stimulate us to godly acts. He desires our confession, our honesty, and our deepest emotional outbursts. His shoulders are broad, and even if we blame Him for our troubles, He wants to take it,; for us to do this is a step toward healing from our destructive thoughts and feelings.
The problem we face when we live in bitterness is that we grow comfortable being bitter. Bitterness becomes our friend, we live in it and it gets in the way of us developing a forgiving attitude, instead we stay in a victim mode, prisoners and slaves of our own attitudes. Scripture implores us to deal with our bitterness in several places; maybe the best example is this:
Eph 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ESV