Do You Resent the Life God Gave You?

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I sat in the restaurant booth across from my husband, but I was distracted by the couple sitting nearby. As I watched them, smiling, enjoying their massive plate of gluten- and dairy-filled food, while my body ached and stomach churned, resentment began to rise in me.

I bet they can eat whatever they want and not feel miserable afterward.

How nice it must be to enjoy a date and not be distracted by a pain-wracked body and a trail of heavy trials that follow you wherever you go.

Rather than enjoying a rare night out with my husband, I found myself spiraling down into self-pity over how hard my life has been, and how easy life seems to be for so many people around me.

Before long, God, in his kindness, jolted me out of my pity party, and made me see the ridiculousness of comparing the messy inside of my life to the seemingly pain-free outside of this unknown couple. I don’t know their story. I don’t know the heartache or scars hidden behind those smiles. I don’t know whether they are joyful in Jesus or ignorantly happy in their blindness. They weren’t the problem. My own heart was.

Recognize resentment.

Though I hate to admit it, resentfulness is a subtle but very real temptation in my heart, especially during times of deep pain and sorrow. Over time, I’ve learned how important it is to recognize this temptation when it comes, so that when I start to go down that path, I can take steps to realign my heart with the truth.

Thankfully, God has shown us exactly what it looks like. Psalm 73 temporarily travels the road of resentment toward “the wicked” whose lives seem to be going so well.

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. (Psalm 73:12–14).

By God’s grace, the psalm doesn’t get stuck there. And as it continues, God shows us how to turn from a resentful heart to a grateful one.

Trust what God says, not what you see.

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16–17)

If we try to make sense of our circumstances, or compare our circumstances to others’, we will inevitably feel like we drew the short straw. We will always find someone who seems to have an easier life, better job, healthier body, or what we long for and can’t have.

Therefore, like the psalmist, we need to stop trying to understand what is beyond what God has revealed, and instead trust the loving purposes our Father has spoken by filling ourselves with the truth of his word. As we do this in prayer, our resentfulness may melt into gratitude as we remember that no painful circumstances in this world can compare to a hopeless eternity apart from Jesus.

How foolish to resent those who are comfortable now, but will be eternally lost. And how foolish to resent other believers who have something that we wish we had when we serve a God who is purposefully working in each of our lives to give us what we most desperately need: more of himself.

Confess your resentment with him.

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. (Psalm 73:21–22)

Just as the psalmist realized that his resentment was ultimately directed toward God, my resentful feelings toward the couple near me was really a cover for my resentment toward God. I might as well have said to him, “I don’t believe you are doing what’s best for me, and I don’t trust your plan.”

When we are suffering and feel resentment towards those who are not, or when we resent others for having something that we don’t have, our feelings are rooted in some form of unbelief towards God. We are either believing that he’s not good (“If he was truly good, he would not deny me what I want”), or that he’s not in control (“If he was truly sovereign, he could have prevented this or given me what I think I need”), or that he’s not trustworthy (“This can’t be what’s best for me”). The battle begins at the level of our thoughts — that we take them captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

As we find in God’s word what truth about him we aren’t believing, we must confess our unbelief. As we acknowledge the root of our resentment, and repent of unbelief, God will faithfully bring us back to the truth of who he is and what he has promised. And our joy will be restored once again.

Tell him all your sorrows. 

I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:23–28)

I thank God for his grace and patience as I stumble my way down the path of following his Son. I never imagined the challenges and heartache that I would face in this life, but God knew, and he has promised to carry me through to the end — growing me and drawing me closer to him each step of the way.

Christian, if you find yourself battling bitterness, resentfulness, or anger towards what God has chosen for your life, and how unfair it feels, I encourage you to lift your eyes to our loving Savior who knows your pain, struggles, and heartache. Nothing on this earth compares to knowing Christ and enjoying him now and having the sure hope of eternity with him.

When you feel tempted towards resentfulness, and feel the weight of your circumstances threatening to crush you, remember that, though your heart and flesh may fail, God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever. He will faithfully guide you with his promises and counsel until that day when he receives you into glory.

When we can honestly say, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you,” a grateful heart has replaced a resentful one, and the circumstances that once brought resentment may be the very means God uses to show us his worth and satisfy our restless souls.

In Christ, 

Sarah Walton

hurts_medium.62ycfe4p32lgurjshoegogequhxiqninTo read more on the hope we have in suffering, you can purchase “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here.

Post Credit: [Desiring God]

9 thoughts on “Do You Resent the Life God Gave You?

  1. This message spoke directly to my heart. After suffering a massive stroke as a newlywed I spent many years living with hatred and bitterness until I turned my heart to Jesus and discovered the many Blessings that I was too blinded to see in my life. Now I wake up each and every morning grateful for another day and when the physical pain sets in I turn my eyes to Jesus who brings me comfort!!

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    1. Wow, Lynn, what a journey you have had! It’s so encouraging to hear how God has equipped you to find strength and joy in him amidst such incredible suffering. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I do not recent God, in my hurting, heart wrenching, pain. I recent my own choices, my weaknesses, my lack of dependence on God. My lack of self-control. My lack of appreciation for what I do have. My lack of strength, hope, and abilities to do even the simplest tasks. My lack of understanding, an ability to keep silent my thoughts an feelings.
    My lack of self-service esteem. I’ve lost my strength to fight, or continue on with the weight of heartache, an rejection. I’m ashamed of who I have been, how I fail to be who I’m needed to be. For not being good enough to love, or be respected. I’m losing my will an reasons for being.
    Pain changes people. And, I am forever changed’.

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  3. My heart goes out to you and your family. As a mom who has suffered through the loss of our first child, and our other two children have special needs, it is indeed heartbreaking to see what they (our children) have to go through. Our family too went through dark financial times, out of a job for my husband, our sole provider, the loss of our home, and struggles. More severe, our son, with behaviors and neurological disability (we are now his legal guardians), have been difficult to handle, for him too, as he is aware and causes him distress… has greatly affected our family, life, and future. But God! We are still on this journey, but the Lord has been faithful. Our kids are in young adulthood now, and even with the disabilities… I could have never imagined they could have much of a future when they were little. He has worked in amazing ways, weaving through our lives, and giving hope for us and our children little by little, issue by issue and year by year. Looking at the big picture was and is still overwhelming, but the Lord helped and helps us through them with guidance, even when we do not always know it at the time. The main thing I have tried to encourage is hope in the possibility of what the Lord can do, while still facing the reality. I have found that none of us do well, without hope in Him. I could not face the future when they were little, and I can’t face the future as they continue growing older without this hope in Him, that He will care for all of us, see us through this life… and the possibility of what He could do, gives us hope. Please feel free to email me, if ever you would like to know more details. We and I will be praying for you and your dear family.

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  4. I too am gluten & dairy free, but also egg, soy, & nightshade free, having lost the ability to eat most of these in the last few years. I struggle with resentment sometimes, but also struggle with compliance. God is gracious through it all & I am working on my gratitude quotient. We have the choice to praise Him thru everything, and I need to do that. I just found your blog through the Prodigal article you did for Desiring God, and I look forward to reading more of your work. Thank you for your honesty about your struggles, as it helps me have a better perspective about trials I am going through.

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  5. Wow, thanks for this, Sarah. It popped up on my Facebook feed earlier today and it was just what I needed to read. I struggle with resentment and today was really hard. I have three young children who each have moderate disabilities. It is tough and even more so today when we went to a huge inter church gathering and I got to see all the other families with their able bodied and typically developing children running around when my three require my constant supervision and help. I will be taking your encouragement and working through my resentment prayerfully this week. Thank you.

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    1. Kate, thank you for taking the time to share this. I’m so sorry to hear what you are going through with your family. It’s hard to understand the Lord’s reasons for these circumstances, but we can trust that he is with us through every moment and using them for good purposes. But he also knows the sadness and grief that it causes within our hearts and emotions and we can trust that he can handle them. I pray that you can bring your struggles and heartache to him in honesty and that he will strengthen you and equip you for everything he has called you to. Always remember, though it may feel like it, you are not alone. Blessings to you and your family. – Sarah

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