On Envy & Bitterness

Proverbs 13:12 wisely says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Oh, how true this is, in so many ways. I think we all know the feeling of wanting something so much—and then having it removed from our grasp, held just inches away from us as we strive and stretch for it with all of our might. As we stare at this Hope we have had, just outside of our reach, our hearts adopt a feeling of deep, deep grief. It threatens to consume us whole; and we seemingly cannot help but nurse the ache within us.

So much of this is unfortunately true for the Chibok girls, and those like them—people who have had their freedom, happiness, and lives as free men ripped away from them.  The Humanitarian Aid Group “Doctors Without Borders” had to leave the area in Rann, Nigeria, because of Boko Haram terrorism, temporarily leaving desperate families in the region without aid.1 It has been two weeks since the Dapchi girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram2; meanwhile, the Chibok girls who have been found/freed are facing extreme stigma and obstacles to reintegrating into society3. These young women represent thousands of other people kidnapped and harmed by Boko Haram: people who are being failed by their own government, and people who are being mercilessly kicked while they are down.

Is there no respite for these people? Is there no Justice, no relief, no refuge for these victims of such brazen crimes?

It’s easy, under these circumstances, to fall into hatred, resentment, and bitterness about the failures of those around these people. Having a hope deferred is something that is not foreign to me. I know full well that, out of having a Hope deferred, resentment and even envy can rise up within my own heart towards those who seem to have the very thing I feel I need—and I would venture to say that this is a common, human problem (at least, I hope it is!).

Though, no matter how common or understandable this phenomenon of resentment & envy may be, it does not take away the truth that it is evil and sinful. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (v. 4). While jealousy and envy are not the same thing, they go hand in hand. Jealousy, wrath, and anger are three very harmful things (Proverbs 27:4). Envy is the result of idolatry in our hearts; it’s for this reason that God forbids us to “covet” in the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17).

What’s more, we believe that if we hang on to resentment, we are holding whatever/whomever has caused us pain hostage until “they pay up.” This is a lie that only keeps us in a place of bitter pain—and causes much more bitter pain for others. “Hurt people hurt people,” as the old adage says.

How to Overcome It

We all get it. Jealousy and envy are bad, and incredibly damaging to our souls, lives, relationships, and most importantly, our relationship with God. But, as Proverbs 27 expresses, it can seem unescapable and consuming. How can one fully honor and obey Christ, even when everything within them screams no?!

Truthfully, the lie of envy and resentment usually (if not always) says, “God is not good,” and, at times concerning envy, “He is holding out on me.” These two lies are the source of all anger, resentment, and envy. But, when we come and surrender to Christ, He is the One who changes our desires where necessary, and helps us through.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)

I admit that I just said about Christ helping us through sounds very trite. Yet, it is nonetheless true. When we feel alone, it is Christ who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6) [source]. When we feel we are in lack of something, it is in turning to Jesus that we are reminded, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1, NIV).

When we come to Christ with our resentment– with how we honestly feel that He is holding out on us– Jesus breaks down this lie– and free us from the resentment, anger, and disappointment we may poignantly feel. It is Jesus’ Will not that we stay locked up in a bitter, envious, angry darkness that “rots the bones,” as Proverbs 14:30 says; but that we come to the Light, to Him for healing. It is there that we will receive His counsel, His rebuke where necessary, and His comforting strength that points to our idolatry and heals the deeper, harmful lie we have been holding on to in our heart of hearts. It is this place that Jesus wants to heal and bring restoration to—even if the only way for it to ever come up is to recognize our intense bitterness.

It’s true. This world is full of evil; and, as such, hurt and broken people can become very bitter and resentful toward whatever has caused them their pain, even becoming bitter toward life itself.

The people, especially the women, of Northern Nigeria, have a lot to resent and become bitter over. They have seemingly been left alone, unaided, shamed and stigmatized for something that was never their fault to begin with.

But we all know that nursing bitterness and envy only creates a vicious cycle of violence and decay, in every sense of the word. So, may these women, in their desperation and pain, come to Jesus for healing only He can provide. May we all.



Do you know Jesus?

God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

Do you want God to be with you—to never leave or forsake you? It’s true that God is omnipotent; and therefore, He is always with us. But it is a different matter to know Jesus personally—and to know that He will never, ever leave you, no matter what.

Learn more about Jesus—this God who wants to have a personal relationship with you, personally—here.


Please pray for (print out a Prayer sheet, here)…

  • The Dapchi girls. Just like the Chibok girls, these 110 young women were kidnapped two weeks ago from Dapchi, Nigeria. Please pray for them to be rescued and freed, soon.
  • The Chibok girls. Please pray for their soon return!
  • For the Chibok girls, and other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, struggling to be reintegrated back into society. Pray that walls would be broken, and that Jesus would bring these young women to Himself, and that they would experience liberation.
  • That “Doctors without Borders” would be able to return to Northern Nigeria, especially Rann, to continue to give humanitarian aid to those who are desperate.
  • That those who resent others in their lives would find freedom in forgiveness, as they bring it to Christ.
  • Reflect: Where are you harboring envy, jealousy, or resentment? Submit to Jesus and ask Him to heal those parts of your life, today.

Thank you for your prayers

1 https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/03/590550649/aid-group-pulls-out-of-nigerian-town-following-deadly-suspected-boko-haram-attac

2 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/photos-dapchi-escapees/

3 https://qz.com/1220746/boko-harams-kidnapped-girls-turn-accused-on-returning-home-in-nigeria/

 

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URGENT PRAYER REQUEST: 100 MORE GIRLS KIDNAPPED.

It has happened. Again.

It was reported by numerous news agencies that a huge number of young girls– approximately 100 of them– were kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, on February 19th, 2018, from Government Girls Science Technical College in Yobe State. Most, if not all of the girls were from a place called Dapchi village.1

Honestly, I am angry. Because, once again, the Nigerian government said that they had rescued 48 of these young women. They didn’t.2 I am honesty fuming, and so, so disappointed, at so much.

I have to remind myself that, horrifically, this has been happening for a LONG, long time. To hundreds of men, women, and children.

But don’t you ever just get tired of this happening, again and again???
All I can do is ask God why. And, “When will this stop?” It’s really hard to not become jaded, right now.

But in this time of anger, heartbreak, and extreme discouragement, I am reminded that my Jesus cares. That, just like in John 11:33, when Lazarus dies, Jesus is “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Let me give you some background. In John 11, Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, becomes deathly sick. Instead of running to Lazarus, or healing him with a word, Jesus waits. Four days. 

In this span of time, Lazarus dies– and there seems to be no Hope for the situation. He is dead. He is gone.

By this time, Jesus comes upon the scene. Mary and Martha are in the thick, dark blackness of grief; Martha runs to Jesus in honest anguish and disappointment.‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask’” (John 11:21).

Holding on to faith, Martha pours herself out to Jesus. “‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. …I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (John 11:21, 27, NIV).

Mary, in her grief, does not turn from Jesus. Instead, she runs to Him.

After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.”
(John 11:28-31, NIV)

In her grief and questioning why, Mary cries out to Him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she says, knowing that Jesus is the only One who can help her in her grief. And as Jesus looks around at the death and grief surrounding Him, the greek for verse 33 is very telling. According to Lysa TerKeurst, “Embrimaomai,” the word used to describe Jesus’ response, “refers to anger, outrage, and emotional indignation.”3

Jesus was not just moved to sad tears—though He was (John 11:34). He was moved to extreme emotional aggravation and anger. Not in a sinful sense; but in the sense that He hated what was going on.

I believe Jesus is filled with a similar anger and outrage, looking at the situation in Northern Nigeria—where countless people have been abducted, coerced, and brutalized under being “led by allah.” I believe that it breaks His heart, and makes Him sigh in sorrow.

In Exodus 5, when Moses initially asked Pharoah to let God’s people, the Israelites, go free, things got a lot worse before they got better. Pharoah refused, commanding the Israelites to work even harder. A lot of pain, anguish, and patience was needed before they were actually able to be free.

And so it seems with this. Things are getting worse before they get better. Mary and Martha couldn’t understand it at the time; but, just as Jesus waited four days—until Lazarus was already dead—so that He could show everyone His Glory, He has a purpose for allowing even an event so sick as this one to take place.

And even now, He is my Hope.

Everyone, please pray for these 100 kidnapped young women. May their story not be so tragic and evil as the Chibok girls’ abduction has been—and may their families never, ever lose the Hope that is only found in Jesus. Please, Jesus, bring these young women home soon.



Do you know Jesus?

At this point, Jesus Christ is the only One who can save. These girls, their families, and the world at large—there is no one who can save like He can.

Learn more about this God-in-Human-Flesh, the One who Loves you and wants to save and help even you, here.


Please pray for (print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here)…

  • These 100 young women. Already, two women were found dead. Please pray that the rest of these young women would be saved, and that this evil, pain, and suffering would STOP in Jesus’ Name.
  • The 112 Chibok girls who are still in Boko Haram captivity. That they would not lose Hope, and would desire to be free. May they come home so, so soon.
  • The families and loved ones of these girls, as well as everyone in Chibok, Nigeria, and Dapchi, Nigeria. Please pray over every person that this evil is affecting.
  • Pray that Jesus would bring about saving people, both now and eternally, even through this tragic event.

Please spread this news, as well as the story of the Chibok schoolgirls. These girls CANNOT be forgotten; MAY JESUS BRING THEM OUT OF BONDAGE, SOON!!!

1 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/02/22/boko-haram-kidnaps-more-nigerian-students/362197002/

2 https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Nigeria-100-Girls-Kidnapped-by-Boko-Haram-Still-Missing-20180222-0037.html

3 TerKeurst, Lysa. Finding I Am: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. LifeWay Press, 2016.