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“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

Shauna Niequist

Life is bittersweet. It’s full of bitter moments and sweet ones. The bitter instances make the sweet ones sweeter. Harsh experiences in life give us greater appreciation for the blessings we receive. If our lives were always easy, where everything seems to go the way we want it to go, then we’d most likely take it for granted and be less grateful. Proverbs 30:8-9 addresses this: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” God allows the bitter as well as the sweet for us to stay humble and to give Him honor.

God’s chosen people, the Israelites, experienced much hardship. Even today during Passover, the Seder meal includes bitter herbs, to remind them of the bitterness of the slavery their forefathers in Egypt experienced. Remember the trials in life, for they will spur on a heart full of gratitude.

When life hands us things we don’t want, we each have a choice in our response. We can choose to be bitter or we can choose to be better. How trials affect our lives is up to us and it all starts in our minds, what we tell ourselves.

If we choose to say, “This is awful! I can’t walk through this,” then most likely we will wallow in self pity. A thought in our mind is harmless as long as we don’t choose to believe it. But once we accept it as truth, the lie will take us down a destructive path. What if during adversity we say this, “I’m not handling this well. I need You Lord to help me see Your redemptive purpose in this and help me give You thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18a) Our attitude, emotions, and actions will be totally different as a result of what we decide.

God has various reasons why He permits painful circumstances into our lives, one of which is to cause us to depend upon Him, which in turn deepens our intimacy. During bitter moments, don’t stomp off in anger with backs turned away from God. Instead, press into Him and allow Him to comfort you.

I love the line in Amanda Cook’s “Heroes” song. “You have taught my feet to dance upon disappointment.” We can do that through humbly thanking God for the difficult circumstance and ask Him to make us look a little more like Jesus as a result. (Romans 8:29) Let the bitter times produce a sweetness within, that undeniably displays God’s splendor.

“Everyone I know gets their heart broken sometime, by something. The question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow?”

Shauna Niequist

Relevant Reflection:

1. What bitter moment are you experiencing today which will make tomorrow so much sweeter? How can you choose to grow during the trial?

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