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Today’s Truth

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31 NIV).

Friend to Friend

I have a confession to make. When I was in high school, I never read the books we were supposed to have read in English class. I read the Cliffs Notes study guides and got by. But a decade later, I decided to go back and get that high school reading list and actually read the books! Great Expectations was one of my favorites. It showed me just what can happen with a heart that stays stuck on a solitary disappointment.

In the story, Miss Havisham is an elderly recluse who lives in a dilapidated mansion. When the main character, a young boy named Pip, is taken to her Gothic estate, he sees a dismal old brick structure with partially boarded-up windows, rusted iron gates, and an overgrown garden. But more startling than the rundown appearance of the outside of the house is what he finds inside.

Miss Havisham, the lady of the manor known as Satis House, sits in a tattered and yellowed wedding gown that hangs over her skeletal frame. Paper-thin skin wraps itself around her claw-like hands. A rotting veil rests upon her gray wispy hair. One shoe sits on a side table, as if waiting to be placed on her foot with the other. Bridal flowers, now long dead, adorn her head. To add to the oddities, Pip notices that every clock in the room has stopped at twenty minutes till nine. In fact, every clock in the house ticked its last at twenty minutes till nine.

Pip later learns that many years before, Miss Havisham had been dressing for her wedding day when she received the heart-rending news that her fiancé had run off with another woman. He would not be marrying her after all. From that moment on, life stopped for Miss Havisham. Every room was left as it was. Miss Havisham patted her heart, looked at Pip, and said, “Broken.” She had sacrificed her future on the altar of her past, refusing to let it go.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). The Greek word translated bitterness is pikria, which means bitterness or harshness.

As Paul uses the word, it conveys an embittered or resentful spirit. The root word pik sounds like what it means: pick, prick, or cut. It can refer to a sharp or pointed object or a bitter, sharp taste. Used figuratively, it describes “that angry and resentful state of mind that can develop when we undergo troubles.”

When we keep picking at the scab of past pain, refusing to allow the wound to heal, we will become bitter. And bitterness spawns other undesirable emotions and actions. Look at the words Paul tethers to bitterness: rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice. A bitter root will produce bitter fruit. It has no choice.

This is what happens when we, like Miss Havisham, hold our fingers on the hands of the clock to stop life from moving on and thus invite bitterness to take root. Of course, life forges ahead, clock or no clock. It is only the ticking clock of the heart that stays stuck as the world continues to spin.

So how do we break free of bitterness. Paul goes on to tell us in verse 32. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

In the end, Miss Havisham set about to make everybody around her just as miserable as she was. And when it comes down to it, that’s what a bitter heart does…and I don’t want to be that person.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, show me any roots of bitterness toward anyone that I have growing in my heart. Help me unearth the tap root so that it will be destroyed completely. And help me to move past the hurt and forward with healing.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you know of any Miss Havishams in your life?
Can you think of a non-spiritual book that you’ve read that taught you a spiritual lesson?
If so, what was the book and what was the lesson? I’d love to hear it! Click “comment” and share.

More from the Girlfriends

Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. In When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories, Sharon Jaynes challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?

What has been done to you and what has been done through you does not disqualify you from God’s best for your life. It qualifies you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever know without it. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes a Bible study guide.

© 2021 by Insert Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

7 Responses to “When Clocks Stop Ticking”

  1. Tia says:

    The non spiritual book I read was by Francis Ray tittled “Any Rich Man will do” it taught forgiveness and redemption. It also reminds me of biblical story of Hosea

  2. Gail says:

    Make sure to read ” A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The story shows the spirit of selflessness during dire circumstances. Blessings for what you do, Sharon! I share the GIG daily devotions with 8 girlfriends. We are from OK, MO, AZ, and PA! Thanks again. Blessings.

  3. Donna says:

    I pray that I am not bitter. Lots of hurt in my life by people. Going through lots right now like the stages of grief. You do get angry. Praying to forget it and let it go…give it to God.

  4. Dennia says:

    Another Dickens novel is the sprawling Tale of Two Cities. This captivating story carries with it a strong theme of loving self sacrifice which takes place in the midst of the horrible reign of terror of the French Revolution. There is an obvious parallel in this book of the sacrificial death of Christ and this is no accident; Dickens was a Christian and his novels are reflections of his faith.

  5. Carrie says:

    As a former English teacher, I can tell you several literary works in the canon of public high school have religious/Christian messages. I often pointed them out to my students. One of my favorites is “To Kill A Mockingbird,” because it teaches empathy, tolerance, and love over bigotry and hate. Also, Shakespeare alluded to the Bible very frequently- as in “Macbeth,” “Hamlet,” and “Romeo & Juliet.” All 3 deal with a character struggling with their soul being damned to eternity, revenge, forgiveness, and righteousness. There are many more if anyone home schooling is interested.

  6. Bernadette says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    This devotion exploded in my face, God is speaking to me. I am ashamed as I am struggling with un forgiveness towards my ex husband. We have been divorced for 9 years and we have 2 children and I am angry. I don’t know how to let go. Your lesson today is telling me, speaking directly to me. I need to let go.

  7. Sharon, your devotion is speaking directly to my heart, and I pray that Father God will help me surrender the resentment toward others in the loss of our loved one.

    Your writing is blessed with the gift of beautiful imagery!! As a former English teacher, I love to read your insightful way with words.

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