“‘It is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.’ Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Ruth 1:13-14
Recently I lost my mother unexpectedly, my husband lost his executive job, we had to move from our beloved small town to a large city, and my health crashed, all within the space of a few months. The “root of bitterness” mentioned in Hebrews 12:15 rose up in me, and I struggled to understand why God had allowed all this to happen.
Then I met Cindy, a woman twenty years younger than I, who was fighting a losing battle against cancer but didn’t let it rob her of her joy in the Lord. Her dazzling smile and cheerful encouragement put me to shame, and I started looking for others to encourage, like she had encouraged me.
After Naomi lost her husband and both her sons, she didn’t deny her bitterness, even changing her name temporarily to Mara, which means bitter. Before returning home, she tried to send away her daughters-in-law. Orpah left, but Ruth refused to abandon Naomi, even though she had lost a husband, too. Ruth avoided the bitterness that defined Naomi by focusing on another grieving person and doing all she could to help. It’s no surprise that once Naomi changed her focus from her personal sorrow to concern for Ruth’s welfare, she began to lose her bitterness, too.
In the same way, we can look beyond our grief to the suffering people around us and learn to love and serve them better. Not only will comforting others make our root of bitterness shrivel up and die, we will renew our joy in the Lord and make a difference in the lives of others by our example of faith.
Lord, help me to put away bitterness born of grief and disappointment, and instead look outward to those who desperately need encouragement
By Katy Huth Jones
Used by Permission
I Corinthians 13 ~ The Way of Love
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