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Replacing Bitterness With Feeling of Thanksgiving

Do you remember how we used maps and compasses to find our way? Today, just about everybody has a GPS, (global positioning system). I remember when I first got a GPS. It was for my 50th birthday, because my family was tired of seeing me get lost. Now, a navigation system comes with a lot of the new cars. But before all of that, it was a compass and a map.

Have you ever been lost and had to use a compass to find your way? Did you wonder why the compass needle always points north? If you know the direction you’re supposed to be going, with a compass you’ll soon be able to find your way. The first magnets, called lodestones, were discovered in Magnesia, Asia Minor, over 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Years later, men observed that an oblong piece of lodestone always pointed north and south. This discovery made possible the first compasses. At last sailors had a way to stay on course. Later, a way to magnetize a steel needle was discovered and the mariner’s compass came into use for navigation.

In 1600, Dr. William Gilbert experimented and discovered that the earth itself is a huge magnet. This at last explained what made the lodestone always point north and south.

When you read the Bible, there are several stories of how they were guided. He led the Israelites “by day in a pillar of a cloud…and by night a pillar of fire” (Ex. 13:22). A special star led the wise men from the east to worship Jesus Christ. What leads us today? Are we led by a spirit of thanksgiving or by a spirit of bitterness?

“Well, maybe I am bitter! Maybe I am bitter, but I never knew it!”

This was the outcry of a lady in a group counseling session. Nearly everyone in the group had picked up on her bitterness during the first session. But she was the last person to recognize it.

Can a person harbor feelings of bitterness, yet never know it? Probably at some time or another, all of us have experienced bitterness about something that has taken place in our lives. But if we want to lead effective lives that manifest love, we need to recognize our bitterness, resolve it, and put it behind us.

Bitterness isn’t easy to recognize. However, here are a few ways in which a person might show bitterness:

n Sometimes a person may show his or her bitterness by not taking part in activities.

n Another way a person may express bitterness is by making constant negative remarks about things or people.

n It is not uncommon for a bitter person to criticize and minimize himself.

n Choosing to isolate oneself is another way in which a person can express bitterness. This person finds it much more comfortable to be by himself and may even take a certain measure of comfort from feeling that other people have ignored and overlooked him. So, he feeds his bitterness on this thought.

n Bitterness often affects our health. The body machinery is very complex. When we are well-adjusted, happy and loving life, this physical machinery tends to work well.

But when we are bitter, a “monkey wrench” is thrown into our machinery. This causes glands, muscles, and the like to malfunction.

An amazing number of people have aches and pains and other ailments that are caused by “poisoned” emotions. Such “mind-body phrases” as “you make me sick” or “he gives me a pain” are indicative that unconsciously, people recognize strong emotions can be reflected in physical illness.

Melissa Callis of Nashville, Tennessee, tells a lesson in thanksgiving she learned:

“One Sunday morning in church, I heard the words that helped me get through the worst crisis of my life. They were in a song based on II Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks.” That verse really made an impression on me, I resolved to give thanks in all circumstances — good and bad.

“Two months later, I had a severe knee injury that I knew would require reconstruction surgery, since I’d had the same operation on the right knee 10 years before.

“I had a job and a 7-month- old baby. I’d have to live with my parents while I recovered so they could care for me and the baby while my husband worked. I thanked God for my loving family, who would help me through the ordeal.

“The operation was successful, but after five weeks in a cast came nine weeks of excruciating physical therapy. Each day, I suffered horrible pain, but thanked God the therapy was working and soon I’d walk, run and play tennis as before.

“When the therapy was completed, I’d achieved full flexibility, but was crushed to learn that I’d never play running sports like tennis again.

“Endlessly, I said to my husband, I’m just a cripple” but he reminded me to be thankful I can walk, work and care for my little boy again.

“Now I make it a practice to give thanks — in everything!”

Every day that you get up you must decide what lodestone you will follow. Whether you will follow the spirit of bitterness or the spirit of thanksgiving. It is my goal to follow the spirit of thanksgiving. I am confident that as bad as things may be sometimes, it could always be worse. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cummings is pastor of Bethlehem Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly in Weirton.

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