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It’s been said that being bitter is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. It destroys families, marriages, companies, plans, churches, and most importantly, souls. The problem is, we don’t always know we have a root of bitterness or where it even begins. It may start with rejection, anger, annoyance, or differences in personalities, and then grows with each thought that isn’t taken captive. A foothold from the enemy today, turns into a lifelong struggle tomorrow, with someone who is made in the image of God.

It happens slowly, it happens methodically, but its effects are like an avalanche at the bottom of the mountain. A bitter person is a person that is often tough to love. We have all seen this, felt this, and experienced this. Rejection leads to rejection, pride leads to pride and anger leads to more anger. The cycle is endless and the repercussions are severe. Eternity is at stake. Generations are effected. Lives are forever changed. This has become more and more evident to me in the foster care system. The foster care world creates tunnel vision towards circumstances, rather than vision for the life God has laid out. Lives impacted so closely by sin and lack of direction that it is debilitating to SO many who bear the very image of Christ in our world. The lies of the enemy seemingly conquering the hope of Jesus in many lives. Bitterness begins with the feelings of rejection. It grows in the soil of worldly ideals and it leads to death for young adults that feel isolated and alone with no biblical direction or hope. The idea of unworthiness becomes so engrained in the heart and mind of a child, that a picture of a perfect, loving, heavenly Father is buried by the lack of an earthly example of Jesus. The picture is grave, but the cross was beautifully designed for redemption. It creates hope and it creates forgiveness. It takes bitterness and rips it up by the root. It creates an opportunity from the chaos. It creates a space for the urgent day-by-day pressures, to be replaced by relationships and sacrifice. It gives us, as believers, a perspective........ these children are not their actions...... they are responsible for their actions, but need direction to overcome the bitterness that is deeply planted in them.

We have seen this in teenage girls that never got to go back with their biological families and we have seen this in a 7 year-old that doesn’t understand her emotions. What will we do? Will we respond to bitterness the way the world does? Will we say that parents need to get their act together? Will we say the church should do more? Will we blame the state for not doing more? Will we become bitter? The crossroad is before us. The foster care world, much like the rest of our lives, is a series of internal thoughts, pre-conceived notions and biblical wisdom that lead to an outward expression. The amount of humility that we have, will directly determine the perspective we have towards a bitter orphan and determine how much the Spirit uses us in their lives.

Our hearts and minds, when in tune with the cross, experience compassion that leads to humble action towards bitterness. It changes the trajectory, not only of a child’s life, but also of ours. It allows us to experience a bit of the suffering of Jesus, along with the joy that comes from the obedience. To know, at the end of the day, you moved towards the mess that is foster care and away from the comfort that is the American Dream. Always knowing that you could do more, but ever satisfied in who God has made you to be. To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Never allow the bitterness of others to make you respond with bitterness! Satan would love nothing more than to have the cycle of sin repeat itself. What will be your response to sin? What will be your response to bitterness? What will be your response to the orphans of this world? What will be your response to the gospel’s call to action?

Run from your sin nature that desires comfort and pleasure, and run to your new self that desires satisfaction from Jesus and what He calls obedience. Everyone works hard at something, what will your work be?

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