It is written:

“You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22  Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:21-23)

Bitterness is one of the emotions that many Christians deal with. Anger towards wrongs (real or imagined) often leads a person to become better (against other people, or against God). The Greek word behind the translation of the English word “bitter” is very powerful.

“In cl. Gk., pikros means pointed, sharp, pungent, bitter tasting, and in a transferred sense painful, angry, relentless, embittered. This word group occurs often in the LXX, occasionally with a lit. sense (e.g., Exod. 15:23; Jer. 23:15), but mostly with a metaphorical sense (see Deut. 29:18; Prov. 5:4; Lam. 3:15, 19; cf. Amos 6:12 = LXX 6:13), such as the bitterness associated with grief, disappointment, and anger—both in God (e.g., Isa. 28:21 [trans. “strange” and “alien”]) and in humans (e.g., Ruth 1:20; Lam. 3:15, 19)….In Heb. 12: 15 (“ bitter root,” lit., “root of bitterness”; cf. Deut. 29: 18) bitterness (pikria) is associated with anger as in the OT. Rom. 3: 14 (a quotation of Ps. 10: 7) associates the word with cursing; Paul uses the verse to show that both Jews and Gentiles are “under sin” (Rom. 3: 9). In Acts 8: 23 Peter accused Simon Magus of being “full of bitterness and captive to sin” after he tried to purchase the Holy Spirit. pikria comes first in a list of vices that the Christian is called upon to put away (Eph. 4: 31).” (Verlyn D. Verbrugge, New International Dictionary Of New Testament Theology, 460 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Sometimes, Christians believe that it is wrong to feel or to express anger towards God. However, much of the Bible is filled with examples of men and women of faith who complain to the Lord about their circumstances.

“Christians are great pretenders. We tell ourselves it’s not supposed to be this way for Christians, and so we resort to a cover-up. For the sake of the gospel, we don’t want to let on (especially in front of a watching world) that things aren’t working out so well. We try to smooth things over for God, send in our best damage-control team to deal with these embarrassing questions, and polish up God’s reputation. We feel it’s our Christian duty to look our best. We can’t afford to show our flaws. Let’s give the world (and each other) the airbrushed version of ourselves as proof that the Christian life really works. God won’t and doesn’t participate in this kind of masquerade. If the Bible tells us anything, it is that this world is fraught with perils and hardships. Eugene Peterson is candid enough to tell us the truth: “No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties. … On every page of the Bible there is recognition that faith encounters troubles.” 1 We are broken ourselves and can’t escape the brokenness and loss of our fallen world. An honest reading of the Bible reveals a God who does not shy away from awkward questions. In fact, he almost seems to welcome them. The ruined lives of Job and Naomi pose disturbing questions about God without censorship—a surprising indication that the disconcerting questions journalists are asking about God are not off-limits for us either. An honest reading also reveals a God who doesn’t explain himself. He didn’t tell Job about his earlier conversation with Satan and he didn’t give Naomi three good reasons why her world fell apart. Both sufferers went to their graves with their whys unanswered and the ache of their losses still intact. But somehow, because they met God in their pain, both also gained a deeper kind of trust in him that weathers adversity and refuses to let go of God. Their stories coax us to get down to the business of wrestling with God instead of chasing rainbows and to employ the same kind of brutal honesty that they did, if we dare.” (Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel Of Ruth: Loving God Enough To Break The Rules, 512-528 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

The biblical way to truly deal with anger and bitterness is to confront it head on. The Lord will help us when we seek Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13), even when we are hurt and angry.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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