Just the other day I was listening to a fascinating (and somewhat gross) report about “natural flavor”—that nebulous phrase that makes its way onto the ingredient lists I often scan. Food scientist Sue Ebeler said something that floored me: flavors work at a “parts per trillion level” and “that’s a few molecules in a swimming pool.” Just a few molecules can influence the flavor of thousands of gallons of water!
That got me thinking about Bible passages like this: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior” (Ephesians 4:31). Like a pungent flavor permeating food, just a tiny bit of bitterness can permeate our beings, influencing our outlook, our relationships, and our spiritual vitality. Resentment and pessimism can sneak up on us, infiltrating our lives in ways we may not even recognize.
Because, let’s be honest: life can hurt. It can deeply disappoint us. It can profoundly frustrate us. And when it does, we have a choice: Will we go the way of bitter resentment? Or will we choose a path of hope?
Feeling frustrated or disappointed is not wrong in and of itself. In fact, Ecclesiastes observed that that this is the common experience of humankind: we often “live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry” (Ecclesiastes 5:17). In Psalms, the descendents of Korah expressed profound despair: “I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out, blinded by tears of pain and frustration” (Psalm 88:9, The Message). The psalmist Asaph, noting the easy and successful life of others in comparison to his own trials, said, “I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside” (Psalm 73:21).1
When Life Hurts
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