Suffering with hope

Do You Resent The Life God Gave You?

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I sat in the restaurant booth across from my husband (pre-pandemic, of course), 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

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Together Through The Storms (Hardback, Audio, E-book link to Amazon) helps married couples to navigate the storms of life together. Working through the book of Job, Sarah Walton (author of “Hope when it Hurts”) and her husband Jeff reflect on their own experiences in a marriage that has faced chronic illness, baggage from the past, a child with neurological challenges, and financial difficulties—and show how to cling to Christ and each other.

cropped-14333744_10210126362936616_68415526346532153_n.jpgTo 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. You can purchase the audio version here and the Spanish translation can now be purchased at Poiema.co

Repost [Desiringgod.org]

7 thoughts on “Do You Resent The Life God Gave You?”

  1. Thank you for your honesty Sarah, it’s funny, your name and family came to my mind when I was doing some complaining recently and I updated my request to God and asked Him to disregard and to bless those who really need blessing, not someone like me, that God has been more than generous with. The sensitivity that God has put in your heart is inspiring. I can only imagine the difficulties involved with the trail you are blazing. I hold you up in prayer daily. I don’t know why but I do know His love surpasses anything we can possibly imagine. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce, I marvel at your sensitivity. And it really blessed me to think that God has put us on your mind. Thank you for your consistent encouragement and prayers for our family. We have felt such a heavy spiritual attack over the past few weeks and I have no doubt prayers like yours have strengthened us through it. Thank you!

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  2. I am a single parent with what I’m told is a schizophrenic and autistic son who is 20. I lost all material things and my career to care for him. We were even homeless a few times. My husband ran off with another woman. I never in a zillion years thought my life would be like this. Oh well. I keep my eyes on God. And I tell myself this is nothing compared to the eternity my son and I will have some day-when his mind will be whole and he will have peace finally. Thank you so much for your honesty and encouragement.🌹

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    1. I’m so so sorry to hear how many incredibly difficult circumstances you have faced. I just can’t even imagine. But I praise God that, despite all of that, he has held you fast and helped you keep your eyes on him. What a testimony! And yes, on the days that feel the hardest, I have to remind myself that this life is short and there will be an end to the struggle – and it will end in glory. Keep pressing on.

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  3. This morning I struggled to get out of bed. I no longer feel like my life is worth anything to my family. It is hard not to believe that God is completely against me. I was diagnosed with MS 8 years ago. Three years ago my daughter, my best friend, walked away from us, said we were no longer her family, and forbid us to have any contact with our then 2 year old grandson. He is now five and has no idea we even exist. The church we loved and where our son served as youth pastor, began to crumble under leadership that turned corrupt, shut its doors. Our son, daughter-in-law and 1 year old grandson moved 1800 miles away to serve at a church. Then, 18 months ago I started losing weight for no apparent reason. I dropped 70 pounds in 6 months without any effort. My body began to reject food. It got to the point that I could eat nothing. I spent a week and had extensive testing at the best hospital in the country. No one could find a cause. I continued to lose weight, until a month ago, doctors said I was at a critical point that organ damage had already started. Three weeks ago, just a week after my husband came home from the hospital after contracted covid-19, I had a feeding tube placed. I have 8 inches of tubing protruding from my stomach that connects to a pump that continually feeds me…24 hours a day. I can no longer eat any food even while watching those around me eat what they want to eat. The discouragement has been rampant. It feels like God took my daughter and grandson away, then our church away, then our son and his family away, and now any sense of living a normal life has been taken away. Today, I am grieving. I feel very much alone. And, I kinda hate life. I am struggling to find God in a life that has been ripped away from what it once was–thriving, loving family, the dream I always had of being a hands-on grandma. None of these things seem unreasonable, yet for some reason, God does not come to the rescue.

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  4. Hi Sarah, thanks so much for sharing this. I can relate 100% to these temptations as a chronic Lyme sufferer myself. After another expensive but failed treatment that left me even more symptomatic and discouraged than before, I have slid into the dark waters of despair, resentment, bitterness, self-pity and anger. It feels hopeless to keep fighting and seeing other people’s relatively pain-free lives feels like rubbing salt in the wound. I am not proud of the state of my heart right now, but it’s just where I am. This article reminds me that it’s possible to get to a place where resentment isn’t mastering me and I can get back to a place of gratitude and trust. And to remember that God is the strength of my heart, not my ability to pull myself together and fix a positive attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

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