KOEDYKER: You can ‘get bitter or better’

Oct 23, 2011


Katie Luther, the wife of Martin Luther, upset at the death of their infant child, descended upon her husband with the penetrating question: “Where was God when our baby died?” Martin calmly answered, “The same place he was when his Son died.”

God knows what it is like to lose a son.

No, God doesn’t leave us. He never leaves us. In fact, the Bible reminds us in Psalm 23 that God is with us and upholds us as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

As their conversation progressed that morning, the young widow I referred to earlier came up with her own solution. “I don’t know how I am going to get along without him. But one thing I know for sure is that I can get bitter or I can get better. And I came here because I want to get better.”

How we respond to the hard stuff in life is the important thing. And bitterness doesn’t help.

We all have disappointments in life. Milton became blind. Beethoven lost his hearing. Helen Keller was deaf and blind. The great Christian leader Paul wanted to go to Spain to spread the gospel, but instead he got thrown into a Roman prison. Were they defeated by their disappointments? No, they all are great people that history remembers because they overcame their defeats.

But one of the greatest overcomers of all time has to be Abraham Lincoln. He failed in business two times; he was defeated when he ran for the state Legislature in Illinois; he suffered a nervous breakdown; he ran for the U.S. Congress and lost twice; and he also ran for the U.S. Senate and lost twice. If you didn’t know any better, you’d say, “What a loser!” But he did win the presidency of the United States in 1860 and was probably the greatest president we ever had!

Through all of his defeats and disappointments, Lincoln never became bitter. In fact, after he was elected president, he chose some of his greatest critics to serve on his cabinet.

The great thing that having faith does is that it gives us a hopeful outlook. The Bible is the story of reversed fortunes again and again — defeats turned to victories, problems turned into opportunities and death turned into life.

The apostle Paul put it this way: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

He also describes believers as “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:39)

How we respond to the hard stuff in life is the important thing. And bitterness doesn’t help. But God does.

— By the Rev. John C. Koedyker, pastor of Word of Hope Church in Fruitport.


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