Hope Sees the Sweet Even in the Bitter

I’m full. It’s what we sometimes say at the dinner table when someone offers us another helping of food. It means we have had enough to eat, or it could mean that we would rather not eat anymore of what was served.

We can be full in the wrong way, or full of the wrong stuff. And, when we are we can miss so much, see so little, and even become hard and brittle about life.

This is what’s meant by this verse from Proverbs: ““The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7).

Someone so full tastes something sweet and fresh and finds it unsatisfying. Beyond that, the full person may despise, mock, or dismiss something sweet that’s put into his life. He may be able to cite a number of reasons for his despite and his dismissiveness. Perhaps, he was wounded in some way and he cannot get past it. He fills himself with agitated thoughts and desperate pleas for rightness, for fairness, and for justice.

He is full, and he refuses the sweetness offered him. There’s no room and no hope in him. Simply, he is too full to be hungry.

The Hungry Get Filled

Notice the second part of Proverbs 27:7 — “…to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Jesus said it in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Those who hunger, those who thirst, those who have room in them are those who are filled.

Being filled is different from being full. The fullness that comes from self crowds out any hope from entering into the picture. The filling that comes from God through the Spirit is built on hope and hope makes us not ashamed (Romans 5:5). When hope is present, then even bitter things point to sweetness and life.

Bitter people are full people; bad memories and hurts obscure their view of the Lamb. Click To Tweet

We see this defined for us in Exodus 12 where God institutes the Passover. The people of Israel were nearing the end of their 400 plus years of bondage in Egypt. The Lord, through His servant Moses, brought a series of plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptian empire.

The final plague involved the slaying of the firstborn in every family, flock, herd, and pack. There was one way of escape, one way to make death pass over. It was a narrow way and it, too, involved death and the shedding of blood.

Moses got the instructions from the Lord. The people were told to slay a lamb, dip a hyssop branch into the blood, and to apply the blood on the door posts and threshold of their houses. Anyone inside the house, under the blood of the lamb was spared. Death passed over them.

The Hint of Bitterness

In the house, around the table, the family celebrated a meal and ate of the roasted lamb, as Jewish families still do in remembrance of this pivotal moment in human history. The Passover meal also included the eating of bitter herbs (See Exodus 12:8). The times of hardship were not to be swept from their memories, but they were to be seen now in the context of God’s great purpose.

Herbs do not make a meal. We don’t eat parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme as main courses. Herbs are used to season meat and fish and poultry and, perhaps, even tofu. Not sure about the last one because I don’t eat the stuff.

With the composition of the Passover meal, the Lord acknowledges that there are bitter realities. However, the bitternesses are a small part of the wholeness of life. These hard things, these sharp things serve to season us, to enliven our hearts and our minds to hope.

The bitter herbs hinted at the sufferings endured, but they were not permitted to dominate the Passover celebration. The centerpiece of the meal was the lamb, which pointed to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

The taste of bitterness must be kept in its proper place. Bitter people are full people; bad memories and hurts obscure their view of the Lamb. Their lives have become so crowded that even sweet things are viewed in jaded and jaundiced ways.

This is not to diminish the suffering people have gone through and are going through. We live in a selfish world dominated by its prince and its power. Tremendously tragic things still happen every day; it is the mystery of iniquity.

Behold the Lamb

God the Son did come, however, and allowed Himself to experience every bitter thing. He, the one and only innocent One, suffered as we suffer. The Lamb of God tasted and swallowed every bitter herb, thorn, and thistle that sprouts in humanity.

His coming, His death, and His resurrection provide the one, true living hope for us all. It is a complete and full hope that rests on Christ’s finished work of redemption.

Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. John the Baptist proclaimed this two times in John 1. This is the answer for the bitter things. We look to the hope of what’s to come. We live with the presence of the Spirit in us.

Let us hunger and thirst for righteousness, for it is ours and knowing that it is ours we can view every bitter thing in the sweetness of His eternal salvation. Jesus imputes His righteousness to us, He robes us with it as a gift of grace. We are hid with Him in God and nothing can separate us from His love.

For more about the hope we have in Jesus Christ, check out “God’s 100 Percent Hope,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.





Steve Andrulonis
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