For a short period of time, I enjoyed the presence of a brother in my home. I was eleven years younger, so he was out on his own by the time I was just starting school. One of my fondest memories of Chris is his teasing - he liked to pester me! Oh, don't get me wrong - even MY pestering him was enjoyed! It would usually end in me being swept into the air, swung around, or pinned like a squished bug under the weight of his body while I had the giggles tickled out of me. When I could barely catch my breath, he'd set me down or let me loose. Some things "pester" us in a good way - others not so much!
When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence. I'm still in your presence, but you've taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you bless me. (Psalm 73:21-24 The Message)
Bitterness is one of those things which "pesters" us in a not so kindly manner. You see, it has a consuming effect. Try as he might, my brother could not totally make me disappear under the weight of his body - I just squirmed too much! Bitterness is quite different - it has a weight strong enough and big enough to consume us totally! Whenever Chris pinned me down, mom was usually not that far away. She would come to my rescue on occasion - hearing my cries for "deliverance". There is not a whole lot of squirming we can do to get out from under its load - it takes deliverance from the load!
I looked up the synonyms for "beleaguer" and guess what I found? A whole lot of words which emphasize the complete and utter sense of hopelessness we feel whenever bitterness is allowed to take root. Here they are:
- HARASS - torment so thoroughly and with such consistency that it becomes commonplace. In other words, when we are feeling like there is no way of escape it is probably because of the repetitiveness of the attacks.
- PESTER - persistent troubling of the mind, will, or emotions until the weight of the trouble is felt continually. An obsolete meaning of this word is to "overcrowd". This is how bitterness effects us - it overcrowds us with its worries and stress.
- BADGER - to bait until one is so disturbed by the bait so as to "bite". Wow! So, bitterness actually "baits" us into responses we'd rather avoid, huh?
- VEX - to stir up, placing into motion what otherwise would have been left unaffected. Hmmm....ponder on this one for a moment. What would be better left undisturbed? Nothing delights the devil more than stirring up what should "settle out".
- PLAGUE - in a medical sense, we'd consider this an epidemic - capable of infecting a huge group of people simply by the actions of one! Bitterness has a far-reaching affect, does it not? In the simplest sense, this is like a bur under the saddle - it annoys repeatedly until we worry on it a while - doing and saying things we'd normally not say or do.
- ANNOY - I was surprised to know the meaning of this word included the idea of being molested. Bitterness is kind of like molestation - it "violates" us and others.
Wow! Now, if our eyes aren't opened to just how much bitterness becomes a consuming and overwhelming force within us, we need to re-read these again! David says it is a consuming force, linking it to envy. Hmmm...envy is usually the desire to possess something another has - like possession or position. How does it relate to bitterness? Well, when we don't get what it is we think we "deserve" in a relationship, don't we begin this course of thought with the initial thought of "I deserve better"?
If we are to be out from under the weight of bitterness, we need to do more than "squirm" around under its weight! No amount of squirming will help us get out of its building pressure. Sure, it might relieve a little of the weight here and there, but we are still under its weight. Chris would let me "come up for air" once every now and again! But...until mom intervened, I wasn't out from under his weight fully!
Until Christ intervenes, we are never fully delivered from the weight of bitterness and envy. David says it well, "You've taken my hand". We need more than a weight to be lifted - we actually need to be lifted up and led away from the hold bitterness has on us. This is God's work - deliverance involves more than just removing the weight - it incorporates the "relocating" of our focus. Eyes are turned to him - emotions are healed, heart re-aligned, and mind renewed. In turn, the weight is no longer a threat. It might just be time for us to realize "squirming" never brings deliverance!