“He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.” Lamentations 3:15-17 (ESV)
Editor's Note: Happy New Year! Please note, an earlier audio version has this devotion titled, "Are You on the Wormwood Diet?" We apologize for the error.
I hung up the phone, and that’s when it hit me. A tangled mix of tears — joy and achiness — ran together, and at a pace that surprised even my tear-prone self. A precious friend had just told me of her amazing, miraculous news. After years of infertility, God opened her womb, and it now danced with new life.
My heart rejoiced with her happiness — and yet, it seemed as though her joyful news highlighted the bleak, sparse state of my life: displaced and lonely after uprooting our family in a cross-country move, working through grief over a difficult diagnosis for our son, and struggling to repair old wounds in my marriage that just wouldn’t heal.
As this dear friend reveled in God’s incredible work in her life, I twisted and twitched against the itchy circumstances surrounding me. In this season, I found myself camping out in the book of Lamentations, written by the ancient prophet Jeremiah. He was a man who knew a thing or two about enduring seasons of hardships — so much so, he even earned the nickname “the weeping prophet” (boy, can I relate to that!).
Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 3:15-17, though ancient, spoke volumes to my modern soul and captured the ache in my heart:
“He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.”
That word, “wormwood,” caught my eye. A little online digging revealed it’s a shrubby plant — la’anah in Hebrew — and most noted for its intense bitterness. The Greeks used the word absinthion, which means “undrinkable.”
And just like its unpalatable taste, wormwood appears frequently in the Bible to symbolize unpalatable bitterness and sorrow in life. In that season of my own life, I felt much like Jeremiah — chowing down on a daily diet of wormwood.
Have you ever felt that way?
Maybe you’re in a season where you, too, find yourself on a steady diet of wormwood. Everywhere you look, you’re taking in bitterness while it seems those around you are feasting on filet mignon.
And oh, how our enemy loves to use our soured, seared taste buds to seduce us into doubting God’s goodness! With every bitter bite, he tempts us into thinking our Father has forgotten us, as if we’ve slipped into a place beyond the reach of His goodness.
But nothing could be further from the truth! Listen to the words of Jeremiah, written just verses after lamenting his wormwood diet:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’” (Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV).
Like Jeremiah, we too can choose to remember and cling to the truth in our circumstances: God Himself is our portion, even when scrubby wormwood shrubs line our path. It may feel as if we’re on a wormwood diet, but God’s faithfulness never ends. He will see us through bitter to better seasons.
And if “the weeping prophet” could cling to this truth after all he’d been through, then sweet sister, surely you and I can do the same!
Dear one, no matter what bitterness permeates your life right now, the steadfast love of the Lord stands ready to satisfy you. There is no darkness beyond the reach of His light, no pain too tender for His touch, and no lonely void His love can’t fill. May we feast on that love today.
Dear heavenly Father, our weary hearts give You thanks for being a God who sees and satisfies our needs with good things. When bitterness surrounds us, grant us strength to turn away from the enemy’s lies and turn instead to You. May our souls find peace and rest in You this season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (ESV)
Psalm 107:9, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (ESV)
Weighed down by the pressure of resolutions? As we gear up for another year, consider making a new kind of resolution with us … a resolution to spend more time in God’s Word. Our First 5 app makes it easy. Join us January 6 for God Has Not Forgotten — our first study of 2020. Click here to take your study even further with the God Has Not Forgotten Experience Guide.
Need some biblical truth for your season of life? We’ve got a podcast for that! The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast releases new episodes twice a month for any girl in any season. With topics ranging from family to leadership, we know you’ll find something to encourage your soul. Click here to find a podcast episode for you.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What area of your life seems soaked in bitterness? What would it look like to let God’s steadfast love cover that bitterness today? Join the conversation in the comments section!
© 2020 by Meredith Houston Carr. All rights reserved.