Romans 8:25

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with PATIENCE wait for it.

Hebrews 10:36

For ye have need of PATIENCE, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.











We must endure the bitter to have the sweet
Patience that
Bittersweet thing

                                                                                                   by Eloise Gardenier

      Each and every Thanksgiving and Christmas for 22 years now I have gathered bittersweet that has grown on our property. I knew little or nothing about it, just that it seemed to be a nice natural, decoration for the fall holidays. In prior years I have always had to search for it as it grew in small amounts. This year I could not believe my eyes! It started with an unknown vine touching our sitting room window which began to develop little round, flesh colored berries. I was going to gather some of those but never found the time. Shortly after that, they began to open up and I realized that this process had been a two part symbolism of God's creation - our flesh, and Jesus' blood. He showed me that the flesh colored berry I had noticed symbolized the flesh of man, and the next thing to appear was the blood of Jesus which split open the flesh and take charge of our hearts, converting them.  That hidden berry is on the inside, not to be seen until the cover is split open exposing the real treasure, then eventually falling off or away. Yet one thing I have always noticed over the years is that those berries/hearts will still be there as long as I kept the arrangement. Just as Jesus will remain with us as long as we cling to the arrangements He has made for us.

      I began this by saying I had never seen anything like the crop of bittersweet this year. Our property and surrounding town almost looks like it is being taken over by the vine, which I believe to be a symbolic plant of the Lord Himself. Many tree tops are covered with their brilliance. I am completely certain this is yet another sign we are in the last days. It is a message from the Lord that prophecy is being fulfilled more rapidly day by day. Of course, if we know prophecy and its meaning, we know that just by watching the nightly news. However, the Lord has provoked me and shown me more reasons to use this plant as an example for me, personally, and also to share with our readers at this special time of year.

      The dictionary describes bittersweet like this; "the woody night shade climbing, trailing plant with scarlet berries, with orange capsules opening to expose red-coated seeds. Both are bitter and sweet to the taste, both pleasant and painful."  This is also a description of our lives in the flesh. The Scriptures point out that life on this earth is one of both "bitter and sweet." We can all tell of times in our lives when we suffered "bitterness" and sorrow, as well as other times when life was as "sweet as honey."

      As we give thanks for the birth of our Saviour, let us focus on the life of his mother at that time. Ponder what it must have been like for her, knowing his birth was at hand, with no place to even lie down. She had already been accused of being a loose woman, carrying someone else’s child. If there was a midwife present to help her, we have never heard of that. Ponder also the fear Joseph must have felt for both himself and his wife. Let us imagine the "sweetness" of the safe delivery of this beautiful child who was placed in their care. How incredibly sweet the visit of the "Wise Men," traveling so far and bearing precious gifts, giving them faith that this calling was indeed from God Himself, must have been. How bitter and grievous it must have been to receive word that they must leave their homeland and go to what was probably for them like a foreign land, to save their precious young child from being murdered. It was far beyond anything we can even imagine! Then, once again, the sweet relief came when news of the death of Herod reached them. At last they could return to their homeland, family and friends.

       The next incident recorded in Christ’s life is of one when bitterness struck again. When in Jerusalem, Jesus’ parents suddenly realized the youth Jesus was nowhere to be found. They probably felt anguishing guilty for letting it happen. The sweet relief when they found Him in, of all places, the Temple! The bitterness that came their way once again when, at thirty, His ministry began. Even though both of them had heard from God personally, Mary and Joseph didn't understand what he would have to go through as the Son of God. At times I’m sure Mary felt baffled about His actions when he traveled to other places giving her the bitterness of worry. Mary may have felt abandoned and deeply and bitterly hurt. But that was only the beginning of the bitterness that was yet to come before His mission here on earth was finished and she could realize the sweetness of the victory He had won for her and all of mankind. Just imagine his mother’s bitter sorrow as He hung there on the cross, and as He gave her to His beloved disciple John. And how about her heartache when Jesus refused to drop what he was doing in ministering to the crowd and seemed to say unfeeling: "Who is my mother, and who is my brother, but those who hear the Word of God and do it." But oh, the sweetness when He rose from the dead on Easter morn! The sweetness when his brothers Jude and James repented and they accepted Him as the Savior. 

      Throughout the Bible there are heroes and examples of those who lived bittersweet lives, symbolized by the plant created by God himself to show to those who can receive it; this life here on earth will always be bittersweet. We need patience in the spirit. God will turn our bitterness into sweetness in time. The bible says he will wipe away all tears from our eyes when we are residing in glory land.

       Remember Elijah? Running from Jezebel in fear of his life as he bitterly cried out to God; "...and I, even I only am left and they seek my life, to take it away."  God's sweet reply was; "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." And David, whom God Himself called "A man after His own heart," could not escape the bitterness and sweetness of life here on earth.  In 2 Samuel 18:33 we find that at the death of his son Absalom who had turned against his father even trying to have him killed, David "the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" How bitterly David was hurt.  Yet in Psalm 103 David proclaims: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea sweeter than honey to my mouth. Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." In Psalm 104:33 & 34 we find David singing to the Lord: "I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord." Here we see the spirit of a man who believes that life’s beauty and sweetness is not about Him, does not flow because he alone is happy, but that it is about the good of others, especially the Lord’s happiness from whom all happiness must ultimately flow.

      And take our brother, Paul. Who could have had more than this man to feel bitter about? In 2 Corinthians 11 we read this list: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  In journeyings often, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren: In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not?" It was not about himself, but about others. He was able to summon up the fruit of patience because he had the sentence of death working in him.

      Paul rarely allowed Satan to rob him by bitterness (and that for only a brief moment here and there. Paul never allowed bitterness to grow in him against God. In fact, he goes on in the next chapter to focus on the sweetness of service to God. Though he does not expressly say so His being transported up to heaven for a vision probably happened during the dramatic and frightening incident in which he was stoned and left for dead, but remarkably raised up after his lifeless corpse was tossed outside the city. He says, "I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third heaven. How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." Also we might imagine how sweet the last two years of Paul's life must have been. "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him. Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." This sweet thing happened while he was under the bitter duress of imperial house arrest in Rome. How bittersweet even the end of Paul’s career! (Acts 28:30 & 31)

      Think also of the bittersweet life of Jacob the one who had seized the ‘blessing’ and prevailed with God. The betrayal of his sons, the rape of his only daughter, the murder by his sons of an entire town, the infidelity, lies, envy and hatred within his own household caused him the most bitter of grief. One final aspect of his testimony on earth was how difficult and evil had been his days, how much he had suffered. But how sweet was the blessing and the Lord’s love at the same time. Imagine the unimaginable sweetness when he was restore to his favorite son after thinking for so many years that he had been dead. Jacob would not have traded the bittersweet for any candy-coated life that was without the blessing.

      During any holiday (if we choose to celebrate it in God’s name) let us take care to examine our lives. How do we handle the bitter, how do we revel in the sweet things of love and grace?  With so many of us, I for one, if it had not been for the bitter in my life I would never have admitted that I needed the help, the salvation of my Saviour, Jesus Christ? Would I still be trying to be my own saviour, or make some man my saviour? I thank our God He allowed me to go on until I came to the end of myself where I had to call out to the only place left - up to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The "sweetest" thing for me that I ever did!!!

      Now I look forward to "The Sweet Bye and Bye" because God sent His only Son to be born of woman (flesh, just like us) that he might take our place on that cross once and for all! And all who can receive Him as their Saviour and be born again can look forward to the Sweet Bye and Bye as the song goes:

      There's a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar;

      For the Father waits over the way,

to prepare us a dwelling place there.

      In the sweet bye and bye,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

      In the sweet bye and bye,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

      We shall sing on that beautiful shore the melodious songs of the blest,

      And our spirits shall sorrow no more,

Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

      In the sweet bye and bye,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

      In the sweet bye and bye,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore. 

“The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”(Proverbs 27:7)

       Let the Lord fill your hungry soul with the sweet things of Christ and accept the bitter truth of your sin and your desperate need for a Savior and you will be blessed with the gift of everlasting life. And if God permits you may even go on unto perfection as Hebrews 6 suggests. You may enter into the reality that your happiness does not depend on everything going according to your good pleasure, but happiness depends on the welfare and blessedness of the one you love.