In Job’s reply to his friends he continues to assert his righteousness in spite of his suffering and the accusations from his friends. Job realizes he cannot argue with God. God is too wise. He cannot wrestle with God, God is too strong. He cannot even plead with God, God is too aloof in this time of suffering. Through it all, the pain does not stop. Job laments that God, “…will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness.”

It doesn’t take near the depth of pain in my life to make me bitter. Sometimes it comes when I don’t get what I want, or I get less than I expect, or I feel slighted, or any number of less significant hurts than Job experienced. Loss, disappointment, pain, and suffering are just part of life. People hurt people. Sometimes we are hurt intentionally, and sometimes it’s unintentional. All of us have experienced it. We are all tempted to respond with bitterness and sometimes it clamps down on our lives like shackles on our legs and won’t let us go. I’ve noticed that bitterness can be more painful than the hurt I allowed to cause it.  I allow my stomach to churn, my mind to storm, and my soul to turn dark. Bitterness is one of the most dangerous plagues a Christian might catch. It will eat away at the vitality of our spiritual as well as our physical lives. It is indeed a “cancer of the soul.”

One writer suggested  that “there is a cure for this plague. One of the most beautiful words in any language is the word ‘forgive.’ The word is a common one, but the essence of the word is in the last part, ‘give’.” He argues we must “give” a release to the one we’ve perceived as having harmed us. I expect that we often perceive, as Job did, that God has wronged us. When inexplicable pain enters our lives, we find no object of our bitterness but God. I’d argue that God is never wrong, yet sometimes we even need to forgive God, let go of a perceived hurt and release God as the source of our pain.


“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21)