Bitter or better

Everyone has times in their past that they look upon as “dark nights”—tragedies or difficulties that were largely beyond their control and sometimes the direct result of other people’s wrong choices or unloving actions. How people react to those wrongs can determine whether they become bitter or better for them.

Those who have a hard time seeing any good in the difficult times they’ve been through can often become resentful, which makes them even more unhappy. Perhaps they were wronged, but Jesus could have used those situations for their good in some way. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”1

It’s very possible that in many of these cases that people look back on as “mistakes,” the circumstances were used or even engineered by God in order to bring out the best in them, or to draw them closer to Him, or to teach them something valuable, or even just as a test. It’s not that God wanted these things to happen; He wants only the best for His children. But since they did happen, He wants to turn them into something good. That’s the way He is—He can and will turn anything to good, if we’ll let Him.

Finding the good in a bad situation isn’t just a “glad game” exercise or a good idea; it’s vital to our emotional and spiritual health. If we can’t accept that there could be a silver lining to some of the rain clouds of our past, then we’ll probably never fully forgive and forget those things—and that can lead to bitterness.

For this reason it’s vital that we not allow ourselves to look back at any situation, no matter how terrible it was, remembering only the bad. It may not be our favorite memory, it may even be painful, but if we ask God to show us specifically how He would like to use that situation for good, He can set us free from that bitterness or other ill feelings and bring about beautiful victories.

What greater triumph is there than to bring good out of bad? That’s the ultimate way to conquer our past hurts—not by bitterness and thoughts of getting even, but by allowing God to make us better as a result of them.

  1. Romans 8:28