TEACHING - Character
Facing Trials: Are You Bitter, Brave or Broken?
By Ellen Gill
-- We all go through trials, but it’s how we react to them that matters most. We can allow bitterness in our hearts, or even put on a brave front. But I believe instead we should allow ourselves to be broken, humbled and changed.
Absolutely nothing good comes out of bitterness. I've seen it in the hearts of people, my family, since I was a child. Bitter people live a depressing and angry life. Their resentment keeps the offense alive every day. If you ask a person carrying bitterness about it, often anger pours out of them like water from a pitcher. Every detail of the situation exactly explained. All the quotes sound verbatim, with inflections and emotions as if the argument just happened.
Many people believe the better choice is to be brave. I used to be one of them. Being brave in the face of difficult trials seems good: weathering the storm, riding it to its end and then jumping back into life. I thought, if I could just keep moving and pushing toward the future like a charging horse with blinders on, it would all go away. That’s better than bitterness, and we certainly shouldn’t wallow in the pain.
But choosing bravery as a way to get through a trial was like a soldier in battle, trying to survive the grenades and bullets flying by. It was simply survival.
There was so much sadness around me growing up that I think if I had stopped for a moment I would not have had the strength to press on. The sadness would have made me sit and cry, and at that time I didn't have the hope of Christ in my life to get me up on my feet again. It was a season of bravery. But even for soldiers who make it through physically unscathed, if they've had to march past the bodies of fellow comrades, they face a great deal of emotional pain when the war is over.
In my mid-20s, I realized there was a better choice. Since then I have fought against being brave and have chosen the road of being broken. I am now and have been for quite some time in a season of brokenness. When a trial comes, I face it full on. I don't try to go around it, or dodge its bullets. I deal with it and yell, "INCOMING!" But, I don't duck. Allow the trial to be used by God to change you.
Brokenness and waiting go hand-in-hand. The impulse is to run, to dive, to hide, but also to wait...wait on the Lord to bring the answers. Waiting on Him to bring the healing also brings a good kind of brokenness. It will not feel like you’re being 'remolded' per se. It's more like a breaking and a rebuilding. God is piecing us back together taking out the parts that are of no use to Him and replacing it with new pieces. God will slowly replace us with more of Him.
"Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise." Psalm 51:15-17
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Being broken isn't easy. It is a decision as is being brave or bitter through a storm of life. But with brokenness there comes a newness, a compassion for others, a deeper love for God, a spirit of gratefulness and a joy that is unspeakable!
Can God change your life?
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)
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Ellen Gill is a homeschooling mom of six children who loves Jesus Christ and her family. She has been a women's ministry speaker, a children's ministry director, and has a passion for touching lives through honest, transparent writing. Her blog http://justagirlwholoves.blogspot.com/ reveals the presence of God in the midst of her struggles and joys.
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