Necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes called flesh-eating disease, is a very rare but serious bacterial infection. This bacteria can actually destroy skin, fat, and fascia (the tissue that covers muscle) within a very short time. Left unchecked, it can also spread through the blood and damage the lungs, heart, and other organs. Basically, it eats a person up inside.
While this disease is very rare, there is a disease that is much more common, one that also eats a person up inside, emotionally and spiritually. That disease is called bitterness. Bitterness is a feeling of anger or resentment directed toward other people, or even toward God. But while necrotizing fasciitis is caused by bacteria, the disease of bitterness is caused by perceived unfairness or injustice, or by adverse circumstances.
Bitterness can creep into a person’s life as the result of illness, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or any number of difficult and trying circumstances. A person dealing with one of these things may harbor resentment or anger at another person, or at God, and that anger or resentment, if it is not dealt with, can easily turn to bitterness. God’s Word tells us that bitterness is among the list of things that we need to put away from us (Ephesians 4:31). When our bitterness is directed toward God, it may be the result of a lack of faith or unbelief. So, how do we deal with bitterness? We replace it with trust.
In the book of Daniel, we read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Hebrew men who, while in captivity in Babylon, refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar or his gods. As a result, they were arrested and brought before the king, to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Now, these three men certainly may have felt that they were being treated unfairly. They could have been angry at the injustice with which they were being treated. They could have been resentful toward God. After all, they were facing a fiery death because they chose to worship Him alone. Instead, they decided to trust that God would deliver them from their adversity.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, but they were not burned. Their trust in God was rewarded and, to the amazement of Nebuchadnezzar, they were delivered from that fiery death and God was glorified (Daniel 3:28). When we choose to trust God, to replace bitterness with trust, no matter what circumstances we face or what trials we are going through, God can and will deliver us. Instead of being eaten alive by the disease of bitterness, we will be given the peace that comes from God, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).