I have been guilty of holding on to anger and bitterness longer than I should. What was my purpose? I am convinced that holding on to it made me feel like I had some sense of control in a situation where I had none. Holding on to the anger gave me something in a situation where I felt I had nothing. But what did it do? Absolutely nothing. Well...that's not entirely true. It did do something. But not exactly what I wanted it to do. It wasted my energy. It wasted my time. It robbed me of my peace. It hardened my heart. It made me more like the opposite of who I want to represent: Jesus.
I began asking God to fix the situation. I asked God to give me peace about it. Yet, I continued holding onto it when it seemed like nothing was occurring. Or rather, when the situation seemed to go from bad to WORSE. Have you ever been so consumed by anger that you feel you cannot breathe? I have. I have been so angry to the point that I feel I cannot think straight. All I want is for the pain of that anger to go away. Did you catch that? Pain. Deeply rooted in anger is pain...sometimes the pain is hidden so deep we never recognize it for what it is.
We feel someone has wronged us. We feel we've been dealt a crummy hand in life. We feel that after all of our mistakes we just can't seem to make things right. It all hurts. Regret, rejection, guilt...it all leads to pain. Left untreated, it can lead to anger.
Pain is uncomfortable. So is anger. When I feel these things, I don't want to deal with it. I just want them to go away. I want instant gratification.
If I ask for God's help, I need to trust Him. The bible says, "...all things are possible to him that believes." Mark 9:23. If I ask, yet I take matters into my own hands when I see something related to the issue that stirs up anger within, am I really trusting God? Or am I, by my actions, telling Him that I know better than He does?
Trusting God is an act of surrender. I hear God's still small voice telling me to let it go, yet I do not. This holding on creates anxiety within me. It stresses me out. The bible also say, "Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7.
So by giving God my requests, I have trusted Him with the issue. I give Him thanks because I know He is in control. Since my trust is in Him, I have no reason to experience anxiety or stress. Because I know that He's got it, His peace guards my heart and my mind. It guards my my mind from thinking ugly thoughts about those I'd otherwise be angry towards. It guards my heart from allowing the pain to make me lash out at those same people.
Furthermore, God's grace is sufficient. "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."' 2 Corinthians 12:9. God's grace can cover anything. It is more than any amount of anger or bitterness we think we can harbor towards others. Whether I believe it or not, it is a promise from God. God is not a man that he should lie. Numbers 23:19. He speaks the truth. If I'm choosing to trust God, I have to know this and walk in it.
I also need to remember that I have a formidable foe, the devil. He is a liar. He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy, John 10:10. So I have to be careful. He will do whatever it takes to steal my peace. He wants to destroy my hope and faith in Jesus. He wants me to buy into his lies so that I can continue being a slave to the anger and bitterness.
I may not be able to defend myself on my own against that foe. But I don't have to; because through Jesus, I am victorious. Jesus defeated the enemy, and because of this I am free from sin. Therefore, in those moments of holding on to the anger and bitterness, I must remember that my hope is in Jesus, and the freedom He's promised me through His blood shed. I need only trust Him and let.it.go!!!!