In the grip of bitterness

During my hitch in the Marine Corps, my wife and I rented a studio apartment in San Francisco from a man crippled by a World War 2 injury. Captured at Wake Island and later confined for years in China, he was left partially paralyzed when an enemy solider struck hi with a rifle butt.

When I visited with this landlord, he'd tell me one story after another of how barbarically he'd been treated. With vile language and intense emotion, he spoke of the tortures he'd endured and of his utter hatred for the Japanese. Here was a man who had been horribly wronged-without question. The constant misery and pain he lived with could not be measured. My heart went out to him.

But there was another factor which made his existence even more lamentable. Our landlord had become a bitter man. Even though he was years removed from the war.. even though he had been safely released from the concentration camp and was now able to carry on physically... even though he and his wife owned a lovely dwelling and had a comfortable income, the crippled an was bound by the grip of bitterness. He was still fighting a battle that should have ended years before. In a very real sense, he was still in prison.

His bitterness manifested itself in intense prejudice, an acrid tongue and an everyone's out-to-get-me attitude. I am convinced that he was far more miserable by 1957 than he had been in 1944. There is no torment like the inner torment of an unforgiving spirit. It refuses to be soothed, it refuses to be healed, it refuses to forget.

Chuck Swindoll
Killing Giants: Pulling Thorns