BIT­TER OR BET­TER

It’s your choice

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Maria Fon­taine Maria Fon­taine and her hus­band, peter am­s­ter­dam, are direc­tors of the fam­ily in­ter­na­tional, a chris­tian com­mu­nity of faith.

Ev­ery­one has times in their past that they look upon as “dark nights”—tragedies or dif­fi­cul­ties that were largely be­yond their con­trol and some­times the direct re­sult of other peo­ple’s wrong choices or unlov­ing ac­tions. How peo­ple re­act to those wrongs can de­ter­mine whether they be­come bit­ter or bet­ter for them.

Those who have a hard time see­ing any good in the dif­fi­cult times they’ve been through can of­ten be­come re­sent­ful, which makes them even more un­happy. Per­haps they were wronged, but Je­sus could have used those sit­u­a­tions for their good in some way. “We know that all things work to­gether for good to those who love God, to those who are the called ac­cord­ing to His pur­pose.” 1

It’s very pos­si­ble that in many of these cases that peo­ple look back on as “mis­takes,” the cir­cum­stances were used or even en­gi­neered by God in or­der to bring out the best in them, or to draw them closer to Him, or to teach them some­thing valu­able, or even just as a test. It’s not that God wanted these things to hap­pen; He wants only the best for His chil­dren. But since they did hap­pen, He wants to turn them into some­thing good. That’s the way He is—He can and will turn any­thing to good, if we’ll let Him.

Find­ing the good in a bad sit­u­a­tion isn’t just a “glad game” ex­er­cise or a good idea; it’s vi­tal to our emo­tional and spir­i­tual health. If we can’t ac­cept that there could be a sil­ver lin­ing to some of the rain clouds of our past, then we’ll prob­a­bly never fully for­give and for­get those things—and that can lead to bit­ter­ness.

For this rea­son it’s vi­tal that we not al­low our­selves to look back at any sit­u­a­tion, no mat­ter how ter­ri­ble it was, re­mem­ber­ing only the bad. It may not be our fa­vorite me­mory, it may even be painful, but if we ask God to show us specif­i­cally how He would like to use that sit­u­a­tion for good, He can set us free from that bit­ter­ness or other ill feel­ings and bring about beau­ti­ful vic­to­ries.

What greater tri­umph is there than to bring good out of bad? That’s the ultimate way to con­quer our past hurts—not by bit­ter­ness and thoughts of get­ting even, but by al­low­ing God to make us bet­ter as a re­sult of them.

1. Ro­mans 8:28

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