I used to use an old pickup truck for odd jobs. It was dented, scratched, and ugly—but faithful. The only glitch in the truck was the gas gauge. No matter how much gas it had, the gauge read “almost empty.”
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If you had just filled up, it read “almost empty.” If you had half a tank, it read “almost empty.” The gauge only worked when you were out of gas! It would immediately move from “almost empty” to “empty.” I remember once I coasted into a gas station on fumes and a prayer.
I have found one thing in life that cuts the cable from the gas tank to the gas gauge quicker than anything else.
- It drains your relationships with people and dries up your walk with God.
- It blurs your vision, exaggerates your emotions, and takes a healthy, balanced perspective of life and twists it of proportion.
I’m talking about the pervasive and infectious attitude of bitterness.
You can be riding along with a full tank, but bitterness will show you a gauge “almost empty.”
Using the Wrong Gauge when Life Feels Empty
What attitude would you adopt if you lost your spouse, children, money, home, and means of income?
You might respond as one woman did:
Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara (“bitter”), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me? —Ruth 1:20-21
Naomi was honest. Life feels empty when our expectations aren’t met. She said God had made her life very bitter and had brought misfortune on her. She left her hometown with her husband and sons but returned “empty.”
Ironically, she did not return alone. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, returned with her.
Notice where Naomi focused. In these two verses she refers to herself eight times (really; count them): “me, me, me, I, me, me, me, me.”
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Bitterness Dulls Your View of Reality
But let’s don’t be too hard on Naomi. When life feels empty, it’s easy to lick our wounds. But it leaves a bitter taste. Bitterness over life’s tragedies can blur our perspective to where the whole world revolves around us.
In the midst of our pain and disappointment with God, it’s easy to overlook what we really have.
Contrast the statement Naomi made with the words spoken later by the women of the town:
- Naomi: “The LORD has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:20).
- Women: “Your daughter-in-law . . . loves you and is better to you than seven sons” (Ruth 4:15).
What Turns the Gauge Back to God
When life feels empty, how often do we beg and plead for God to give us something—a mate, a child, more money, physical healing—when we already may be fuller than we would be if God gave us what we wanted?
Eventually we will understand God’s purpose for our pain (for some, only in heaven), and we will praise Him for it. A life of faith will praise Him ahead of time, trusting Him when even when life feels empty. Through trust in God, bitterness loses its grip on our hearts.
You may be feeling like that old pickup truck. From all appearances, you are running on empty.
But in fact, you may be spilling over.