Bitter Doesn’t Make it Better

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 (Hebrews 12:15, esv).

Maybe you’re in one of those seasons of life where you really don’t want to accept what’s happening right now. Maybe, if you’re being really honest, surrendering your will to God is the last thing you feel like doing. Even if He were to stand over you and make you bend your will to His (which He wouldn’t), maybe you’d be like that little kid in his school desk, with his teacher forcibly holding him down by the shoulders—sitting down on the outside, but still standing up on the inside.

This thing you’re dealing with—it just doesn’t seem right to you. You don’t agree with what God is doing. You think you ought to have a choice in this matter. There’s got to be some other alternative than just sitting here and taking it, even if you realize in your mind that He’s allowing it for purposes you cannot see.

Yes, there is an alternative.

There’s what I call “The Chain Reaction of Non-Surrender.”

Whenever we remain at odds with God, whenever we push back against the fact that He is in control and we are not, the resistance creates a break in our relationship with Him. That’s the first station on the road leading away from surrender. No fellowship.

Then, no joy. Broken fellowship with God leads, of course, to no experience with God. At that point, He’s not moving in our life anymore. We’re living without the blessings of ongoing interaction with Him. Which leads to no peace. We’re not resting in Him. We’re losing the ability to see His purposes in our life, not trusting that He’s working out a good plan for us. The mess is too big. It’s gone on too long. We’ve moved away from our hope. We’ve given up. Which can only lead to bitterness. The worst thing. What nobody wants.

That’s all that can ever come from not surrendering.

But I’m here to “see to it” today that this downward spiral doesn’t happen to you, “that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” I promise you, God offers grace for every trial. God offers grace for every disappointment and heartache. God offers grace that, when you reach out to “obtain” it, can carry you up under it.

Anytime you’re not drawing on the grace of God—any time you’re not continuing to love and serve and forgive—life grows progressively harder, drier, colder, and more bitter. But when you start getting the grace, you can say from your heart, “Lord, Your ways are best. You’ve allowed this to happen. I didn’t plan for this, I don’t want this, but I know You’re in control. I know You’re going to use this. And I’m going to trust You until I see it.”

I’ve seen God’s Word proven true over a lifetime of experience. Hear me urging you to draw down deeply on His grace. Do not fail “to obtain the grace of God.”

Because any other alternative is just no way to live.


  • What have you learned from your own experience with the Chain Reaction of Non-Surrender?
  • How can you be one of those who sees to it that others don’t fail to “obtain the grace of God”?

Lord, You’ve shown me the dead end of bitterness. In myself as well as in others, I’ve seen the results of it. So I come to You, asking You to fight back against it in me. Make plain the lies that would lead me to consider not surrendering to You, as if it’s my most promising option for the future. I need Your grace, Lord—grace to trust that Your plans and purposes are infinitely wiser, richer, and better than anything I could possibly want for myself. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.