“The fiercest anger of all, the most incurable,
Is that which rages in the place of dearest love.”


“Up from behind a sand dune close beside her rose the form of her enemy Bitterness.
He did not come any nearer, having learned a little more prudence,
and was not going to make her call for the Shepherd if he could avoid it,
but simply stood and looked at her and laughed and laughed again,
the bitterest sound that Much-Afraid had heard in all her life.”

Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places

(image of wormwood)

Anyone who spends any amount of time in a car alone… commuting or traveling…
knows that such time is spent basically as a virtual prisoner of one’s car…
yet it is time spent providing one with ample time for thought and reflection.
That is if the radio isn’t blaring or you’re not jabbering on the phone.

Finding myself commuting to and from Dad’s these days….
Just one way I am alone in the car from anywhere from a little over an hour to upwards
to 4 hours and beyond given the happenstance of life on Atlanta’s interstates….
One little wreck or stall or the never ending construction projects…
and I can find myself with plenty of “alone” time in which to ponder, reflect or fret…

The other evening I found myself quickly playing catch up with some of
my favorite blogs.
One of my brother’s in Christ and his wife are currently in Israel.

This blogging friend has been dutifully posting pictures of his trip along with a bit
of historical commentary as time has allowed.
I’ve enjoyed playing virtual tourist as have others who read his blog.

Yet sadly there have been a few commentators who have been very negative and even critical
of my fiend’s trip….likening such a trip to Israel, Jerusalem in particular,
as a type of Disneyland experience.

Now I understand that any sort of historic tourist draw is going to have its fair share
of those hawking to make a fast buck made on the backs of unsuspecting tourists.
Think posing with Roman clad gladiators outside of Rome’s Colosseum…paying
upwards of 20 to 40 euros for a shot and you get the idea of money being made
at historical sites.

I experienced a very similar sordid encounter at another overtly tourist site
on a trip once to Pompeii.
Pompeii being the ancient Italian city, just outside of Naples, that was destroyed in the year
79 AD by a catastrophic eruption from the volcano Mt Vesuvius.
The city is frozen in time and is a sad and eerie testament to what it means living in the
shadow of a volcano…

Pompeii is an ongoing archaeological site as well as a protected and perseved historical site.
Buildings have been identified as various homes, governmental offices, stores….
as well as the identification of even a local brothel.
Pompeii was a port town and well, one has always heard about sailors on leave…

The brothel was readily identified because of the stone carved man’s genitalia placed above
the threshold of this particular building.
It seems that the locals now capitalizing on the universal interest in sex and so
replicas of this particular “carving” are for sale all over the area outside the city gates.
Think Disney and Mickey’s ear and Pompeii has, well, male body parts for sale.

So I get the whole Disney mentality of tourism…
But there was more to this viewer’s comments than that of causal observation…
as his comments actually turned bitterly hateful.

For you see, this particular blog visitor is an avowed nonbeliever.
He is not a stranger to my friend’s blog, my blog, nor others who profess to
be believing Christians.
It would probably be more accurate to note that this fellow is a former believer now
turned ardent atheist.

I don’t know much about him but that he enjoys taunting Christians.

His taunts on my friend’s site, concerning this trip to the Holy Land, actually
began to border on almost sick…even as he alluded off color to my friend’s wife.

So naturally when I found myself in my car, alone, I began to recall those vicious words,
as well as the words of those who did not care for this
“raining on the trip parade” as it were.
The volley of insults began bouncing back and forth…

What I do know is this man lost his father several years ago—
to cancer is my understanding.
That he was a believer and also what I understand was actually a minister.

I realize that by watching those we love who suffer,
grievously suffering in anguishing pain,
can certainly test and try the faith of the most ardent among us.
And I must confess that I’ve been known to raise my fist to God during the various trails
throughout the course of my own life… so I do not begrudge anyone those emotions
of sorrow and frustration associated with heartbreak and agony.

Yet as I ruminated over those rather wicked words…reflecting even on the tone
to which they were delivered…
only one word kept coming to mind…

Pure unadulterated bitterness.

Bitterness, according Merriam Webster, is a deep-seated ill will caused by anger,
distress or sorrow.
Chances are we have all experienced bitterness or its fist cousin resentment, at some
point during life.

Yet bitterness which is not eventually banished, takes root within one’s being…
Allowed to fester and ferment it is easily recognized.
It is highly unattractive and the outward seeping and spewing of bitterness,
which easily bubbles up to the surface,
is readily and regrettably tasted by any observer.

Bitterness creates an isolating barrier…
Repelling anyone who dares to offer an open hand.

Bitterness is not a welcomed human trait nor is it tolerated for long by others…
It becomes a never ending cycle of brokeness….
as bitterness simply begets more bitterness…

It seems to me that more often then not, non-belivers and bitterness
often walk hand in hand…
whereas the followers of Christ are grounded in what many note as
an unexplainable settled peace…

So as I continue my journey of commuting and ruminating,
I know my friend is throughly enjoying his trip, just we are…
those of us who are enjoying reading of his travels as we
enjoy being virtual tourists…

As one thing I have gleaned…there is certainly no time for bitterness when one is selflessly
sharing with ones friends…
Happy travels Wally….

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

24 comments on “bitterness

  1. @vapor_sage says:

    It’s certainly toxic and very difficult to endure, on the receiving end. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot change others perception and must accept that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. I can change my attitude and response, though.
    Using the that last verse of scripture. Thank You! Cookie 🙂

  2. Lynda says:

    Everything in life is what we make of it – our attitude is central. Traveling to the Holy Land has been a deeply spiritual experience for me on more than one occasion. It is up to each individual to truly “see” what is there with the eyes of faith and the heart. We choose whether we are bitter or better when we experience difficult times. Blessings on your journeys and may you remain safe.

  3. Julie, thank you for sharing an excerpt from Hind’s Feet on High Places. It has been 30 years since I read that. Have a blessed day. ~ Fran

  4. I’m glad for two things this morning:

    1. You didn’t post a pic of your trip to the Pompeii brothel.
    2. I read our mutual friend’s post obviously before Mr. Non-believer does.

    • Don you always make me laugh!
      Don’t worry, I didn’t even take a picture. At the time my son was 13 and when he saw table after table full of those “souvenirs” his eyes were big as saucers– then an old toothless woman kept trying to push one in his hands– I wasn’t a fan of Pompeii 😗

  5. Wally Fry says:

    You are a good friend Julie

    Thank you

    For both the support and the lesson

  6. Wally Fry says:

    Btw I don’t really begrudge those folks trying to earn a living. I would do the same. A fellow has to eat.

  7. Bitterness is rampant in the world today as are those who endlessly sing their “somebody done me wrongs songs.” And life is hard for sure and none of us have been without our trials and anger and bitterness at times, but if we don’t let go of it, it will poison our minds and our bodies while hurting NO ONE but ourselves. And I’m thinking God knows a whole lot about anguish and suffering because He had to watch His one and only Son die a horrible death on that cross. I read a medical report on what happens when someone is crucified and I cried all the way through it and thought I would never wish that on my worst enemy, not even the scum of the earth. But all the whining and crying and hatefulness and bitterness changes naught but the heart of him who chooses to hold it and spread it. It’s a lot like a hot potato, if hold it in your hand the burns will go deeper and deeper and deeper and all the while all one had to do was to put the damn thing down and move one. Great post Julie!!! 🙂 ❤

  8. SLIMJIM says:

    This has got to be the best post I read this week. You diagnosed the guy pretty dead on in my opinion. I thought the guy’s comment on Wally’s post was completely uncalled for. It was pure venom, deadly venom…like he’s killing in action.

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