Bittersweet is an interesting word, and it is the word that perfectly describes what Brian and I are feeling lately as we walk a new path with our family. I think the greatest challenge of bittersweet, is finding that place where the sweet overpowers the bitter.
Our bittersweet circumstance right now, is that our son and his family are moving to England. It is sweet because it is a great adventure! Oh my, I can hardly stand it I am so happy for them. It is bitter because they are moving so far away.
How do I find balance between the bitter and the sweet? Should I? I know this is a time of celebration, but let’s be honest, part of my heart is moving across the ocean! It is easy to put on a smiling face and practice a British accent with the grandsons. But there are also tears.
Fortunately, for me, there is a place where the sweet is released and the bitter is contained, and for me that place is God’s sovereignty. It is the wonderful and beautiful sovereignty of God that gives perspective to both the bitter and the sweet. It is the sovereignty of God that enables me to look at this amazing opportunity with excitement and joy.
God is in control of the details of our lives. He is in control of the entire universe! I don’t think that means he predestined what airlines we will be frequenting and therefore we have no choice – but I do think it means that he knows before we purchase a ticket where we will be going and when we will return. God knows the end from the beginning.
That God is sovereign also does not mean we are in a huge chess match wherein God waits to see what we will do and then reacts to it or adjusts his plans accordingly. I think that God, in his supernatural foreknowledge, already knows the choices we will make and he allows them and has already determined the specific consequences for our good and his glory.
For me, there is untold comfort in this and, because comfort is a choice, I choose to receive it. I think that when we allow God to comfort us with the knowledge of who he is, it is easier to focus on the sweet in the bittersweet things of life.
When we refuse his comfort, when we dwell on ourselves and our limitations rather than his magnificent character, we tend to wallow in negativity and self-pity. As long as Romans 8:28 is in the Bible, I choose to be comforted.
Jesus is our example, he endured the greatest bittersweet event in history: the Cross of Calvary. Jesus endured it because he knew the cross was in God’s sovereign plan, and he trusted the Father.
“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” – Acts 2:23-24 NLT
The cross was the bitterest time in the life of our Savior. It was a time of agony and separation from the Father. Yet, the salvation that came about because of the cross is the sweetest gift of grace for us; for it is by faith in Christ’s work on the cross that we are saved from eternal death and destruction.
It is impossible to divorce the bitterness of the cross from the sweetness of our salvation. The two are eternally united. Christ died on the cross so that we might live forever with him. That was the plan of God from the beginning.
If we try to remove the bitterness – the cross – from our salvation, then we remove the sacrifice that appeased God’s just wrath against our sin; we remove the necessary and just punishment for our sin.
We also enjoy the sweetness of grace. We cannot earn our salvation or add to it. Jesus completed the entire work of salvation as our substitute in our place and on our behalf at the cross. He died for us so that we might live in him and for him.
Life is bittersweet. Yes, we will miss having our son, his beautiful wife and our grandchildren living in the states, but oh, the adventure that awaits them… and us! I am already giddy just thinking about European vacations. I plan to explore places I never imagined I’d see before this turn of events. And I thank God for the technology that will allow us to stay close no matter how geographically far apart we are.
What is bittersweet in your life? Do you need comforted? Will you allow God to comfort you with the truth that you are living under his sovereign care? Will you plant your feet solidly on the reality that God is in control and working for your good and his glory in your bittersweet circumstances? Will you receive God’s comfort through his character so that the sweet overpowers the bitter?