“Damn you, Shawn!” yelled my brother from the top of the stairs. I guess I ticked him off. I’m not sure what I did…I was always perfect, you know. Perhaps Chad was just jealous of my perfection. I’m sure that was it.
“I hate you so much!” I yelled back and then proceeded to crawl up on a small ledge above the shower to hide from the world and weep bitterly…or something like that.
Twenty minutes later, my brother peeked into the room that contained the shower (It wasn’t a bathroom really…just a room with a shower).
“What are you doing up there?” asked Chad.
“Do you really want me to go to Hell, Chad? Is that what you want? Do you want me to go to Hell?”
I know it’s hard to believe, but I’ve always been a little dramatic.
Hindsight—and the Scriptures—have helped me realize that my bitterness and hatred toward my brother that day—and toward others in the days, months, and years to come, is far more damaging to my psyche than my brother’s unauthorized damnation of my soul.
Hatred and bitterness corrupts our hearts and souls as well as the hearts and souls of those around us…and there’s only one cure!
After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they wandered around in the desert for three days without finding water. Finally, they came to a place called “Marah,” which means “bitter.” Apparently, the water in Marah was bitter…it was undrinkable. So, of course, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” God told Moses to throw a piece of wood in the bitter water. Immediately, when the wood hit the bitter water, it became sweet and drinkable. At this very moment, God instructed the Israelites and promised them saying, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:22-26).
Our God is Jehovah-Rapha—The LORD, who heals you.
A handful of experiences in my life have left me feeling bitter and filled with resentment. Whomever or whatever caused the infraction, hatred and animosity aimed toward that particular entity coursed through my veins. I didn’t welcome my bitterness with open arms…in fact I hated the bitterness as much as I hated that entity. I truly wanted to be free from the bitter water that consumed my soul.
Bitterness and hatred is contagious as well. It spreads like a virus corrupting and affecting everyone you encounter—and then everyone that individual encounters. The author of Hebrews writes, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15). The solution to the end of bitterness—the cure to hatred and bitterness—is exactly that: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.”
What is that grace?
By the grace of God, we are saved through faith in Christ—in his atoning sacrifice on the cross and in his overcoming death by rising from the grave (Ephesians 2).
Jesus upon that wooden cross is what transforms our bitterness and hatred into sweet flowing water.
Jesus upon that wooden cross is what heals us.
Jesus is our Jehovah-Rapha—our Healer!
Jesus is the One who makes the bitter sweet.