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Bury the Bitterness

Thursday, July 30, 2020
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One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city. Prov. 16:32, NRSV.

Hurrying between classes at the university one Friday, I stopped at the telex office to collect a fax someone had sent to me. Because it was a letter from my home country, I read it with eager anticipation. Then all of a sudden I felt anger like a thunderbolt exploding in my brain. My blood pressure soared and my heart pounded against my rib cage. Classes the rest of the day passed in a blur as I burned and seethed with anger at the recollection of the insulting words in the letter: anger at the unjust accusations; anger at the injustice done to my reputation.

At vespers that night and church service the next morning, while the servants of God were busy expounding biblical truth from the pulpit, I, in my pew, was busy composing a searing response to the writer of the letter—one that I hoped would scorch him worse than he had burned me. The obsession to get back at him continued to hold me in its grip during the following days. I was totally unable to function during the day because sleep eluded me at night. My appetite was also gone, for my stomach was in knots, and I suffered terrible ulcer pains. Needless to say, being spiritually and physically drained, I had found the fastest, surest, and most unhealthy way of losing weight.

My health deteriorated under the tremendous emotional strain until one day I awoke to the fact that the one being hurt most—physically, mentally, and spiritually—by my angry feelings was none other than I myself. For me then, Ecclesiastes 7:9, "Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools" (NIV), took on new significance, and I was ready to take the Lord's advice to forgive others for having wronged me, even as God has forgiven my sins (Matt. 6:14, 15). Only then was I able to experience a sense of physical and spiritual well-being.

Is there someone in your life who has said or done something to you that made you angry? Maybe it's time to forgive and to bury the bitterness.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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