1) The root of bitterness more than likely is against God, not really against others.
At first I rejected this. I thought, no, I disagree, if anything my bitterness is against the people that have hurt me and I couldn't do anything to protect myself. Then I thought a little bit more. Perhaps I might be bitter at God. Maybe... like when I prayed for that prayer that didn't get answered, or the financial need that didn't get met, that business opportunity that fell through, the book sales that were near zero, that bully at work, or that rejection I feel, or that health issue that wasn't healed, that abuse that wasn't stopped, that rumor that others believed.
I talked to my husband about how Satan's goal in the garden was to get Eve to believe God was "holding out on her." He wanted to set a bitter root in her heart so that she would begin to question God. I then thought about how Satan used the same tactic on Job when he suggested to God that if God allowed Satan to not only kill his children, destroy his livestock and buildings, but also cause him disease, Job would curse God. All in which God allowed. Satan wanted to set a bitter root in Job. As we read Job, we see the process of how it could have happened, but how Job overcame it.
My husband Tony and I read about Saul/Paul last night in Acts with our boys, and my take away from that reading was that Paul had such a conversion in Christ from Saul to Paul that no matter what anyone did to him, stoned him, imprisoned him, spread lies, tried to kill him...he never wavered. No matter what happened, he kept his focus on God's word and promise to him. Do you know what God's promise to Saul/Paul was? This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Does that sound like some great reward that would make you keep steadfast? Interesting isn't it? It was all Paul needed to remain faithful to the very end.
Are you praying for something that God hasn't yet answered or perhaps God has said "no" to? Sometimes things take longer than our time. Sometimes we do not get our way. But like Job, Adam and Eve, Saul/Paul we have to trust. Perhaps God has you on a mission, that produces suffering for yourself but seed for others. Be very careful that bitter root does not get a stronghold, but if it does, it can be destroyed by love.
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many"