Zechariah makes it clear that God’s actions towards people are always motivated by His deep love for us. That great love is clearly expressed on Calvary. But, like Israel, we often doubt God’s love and question His good intentions towards us. This is the first thing that the prophet Malachi addresses. He says in Malachi 1:2, “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” A whole world of emotions is wrapped up in this question. It’s more of a bitter complaint against God than an actual question. At the time Malachi wrote, the people were complacent and steeped in ritual and routine in their worship of God. They were satisfied with a surface relationship with Him based on the performance of actions which then freed them to live their lives any way they wished. They thought they were doing very well, but God was not blessing them the way they expected. God owed them! He had not prospered them as He had promised. They remained a weak nation. Their work was hard. They were tilling the hard ground and scraping out a living from an unforgiving land. If God really loved them, things would be different! It’s often easy for us to feel like that too. We can easily become bitter over unmet expectations or hardships that confront us in life.

The writer of the book of Hebrews informs us that God’s grace is enough for us in all our circumstances of life, even the bad ones. Rejecting that grace brings bitterness that infects everyone around it. Hebrews 12:15 warns us, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” A web blogger wrote, “A bitter spirit can happen to any one of us if we aren’t careful. A bitter root can grow subtly in our hearts long before the fruit of it rises to the surface. Unresolved anger, an unforgiving attitude, resentment, jealousy, and continued disappointment are just a few of life’s struggles that cause us to plunge into bitterness.”[1] Prayer is a wonderful thing when it comes to resolving bitterness. It’s hard to hold on to grudges and animosity when addressing God from a sincere heart.

Charlotte Elliott was a bitter woman. Her health was broken and she became hardened to God. “If God loved me,” she muttered, “he would not have treated me this way.” A minister once told her that if she ever got tired of herself, of her sour, bitter and resentful spirit, to let him know. She later explained she could not come to Christ because of this ugliness in her. “How can I do that?” She asked. The minister encouraged her to bring all of it to God. Don’t try to hide it or deny it or suppress it. Just bring it, just as it is. She did and eventually experienced the peace of God. She wrote the poem which became the hymn “Just as I am.” He will accept us just as we are. Thankfully, He won’t leave us the way we are.

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

[1] https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-bible-verses-to-help-overcome-bitterness/