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The Bitter Stick
by Mary Elder-Criss
06/25/04
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The Bitter Stick

“Ouch!” Eleven year old Billy White felt a sharp pain and looked down to see a pointed stick had poked him in the thigh when he had wrecked his bike.

“Hey, you alright, Billy? We saw you wipeout!”

“Yeah, I think so.” Struggling to his feet, Billy pulled the offending culprit from the upper flesh of his leg where it had pierced the skin.

“Whoa!” Tommy exclaimed when he saw Billy’s leg. “Hey, you’re bleeding! We better go home and have your mom take a look at that.”

“No way.” Billy quickly responded. “She’ll make me go to the doctor and stuff. I’m okay, anyway. It’s not deep.”

“You sure, Billy?” Steven asked.

“Yeah, it’s alright. My bike’s okay. She’ll never know if you don’t spill the beans.”

“Alright. You still want to go on to the fishing hole like we planned?”

“Sure. Let’s go.”



As he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, the muscle spasm hit. The pain in his thigh had been getting steadily worse over the past few weeks. Sharp and piercing on occasion, it seemed to radiate all the way down his leg. Gritting his teeth until the attack passed, he slowly made his way to the shower.

Noticing him limping, his wife Anna called out from the bed, “Is it your leg again, Bill?”

“Yeah. I’m okay.”

“Bill, I really wish you’d go see Dr. Clark about that. There’s got to be something causing you to have those spasms in your leg.”

“I don’t like going to the doctor’s office. It will be alright.”

“Bill, stop being childish. You need to have this taken care of, and I’m making the appointment myself for you today. What is the sense of limping around and being in constant pain when you can go to the doctor and find relief?”

Sighing inwardly, Bill gave in to his wife’s demands. It was true that he hated doctor’s visits, but the pain really had been debilitating lately, and he knew she wouldn’t give up until he agreed.

“Okay, honey. Go ahead and make the appointment.”



Sitting nervously on the examining table, Bill fiddled with the paper gown the nurse had made him change into. He had already seen the doctor, and after hearing his symptoms, had been sent to X-ray to see if a diagnosis could be made.

“Might as well have worn my newspaper. It would cover about as much as this flimsy thing, and perhaps saved me the exorbitant fee I’m sure to be charged by wearing this napkin.”

Interrupting his musings, Dr. Clark entered the examining room.

“Well, Bill, seems that we have located the source of your troubles. You seem to have a piece of foreign material lodged in your thigh. If you will stand up for a moment, I’d like to examine the area.”

Gasping at the unexpected pain as the doctor probed the area, Bill grabbed the edge of the examining table to steady himself.

“Do you have any idea what the culprit might be that is lodged in here, Bill?”

“No, Doctor, I actually don’t have a clue.”

“Well, only one thing to do. We’ve got to lance that leg and discover what is causing the problem."

Twenty minutes later, Dr. Clark held up a small splinter of wood in his forceps.

“Well, here’s the evildoer. Any clue as to how this came to be imbedded in your thigh, Bill?”

Transported suddenly back in time fifteen years, Bill hears the echo of a long forgotten conversation coming back to haunt him.

“Hey, you’re bleeding! We better go home and have your mom take a look at that.”

“No way. She’ll make me go to the doctor and stuff. I’m okay, anyway. It’s not deep.”

“As a matter of fact, Doctor, I now know exactly how that came to be there.”



Unforgiveness. Choosing to hold onto past hurts at other’s hands causes us immeasurable damage in the future. It can, in fact, cripple us. If Bill had simply gone to the doctor at the time of his initial wound, he could have saved himself many years of discomfort. Not until his injury became almost debilitating did he seek assistance.

Unforgiveness causes a deep-seated pool of bitterness in our souls. We become caustic, resentful, and mean-spirited. Although we may inwardly long for acceptance and understanding, our outward nature reflects someone who is embittered and cynical. We inadvertently push people away, regardless of our desire to belong.

Forgiveness equals freedom. Only by relinquishing the emotional wounds we have suffered at other’s hands will we ever be totally free of their control. To truly forgive as Christ would have us to do means to forgive unconditionally. An apology is not required. Many times we will be wrongly accused and unjustly treated at other’s hands, and will not reap the benefit of them saying, “I’m sorry.” This type of forgiveness is what flows down from the Father’s throne, in the form of grace.

It is not always easy, but by seeking God’s leading, and allowing His mercy to become ours by walking in His love, we can be overcomers. Today, if you have been wounded and emotionally scarred by the “bitter stick,” seek the Great Physician. Allow Him to remove the painful remnants that have been left behind, and walk fully in His healing powers.

Copyright 2004






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Member Comments
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Helen Dowd  08 Jul 2004
A good analogy, Mary. We can all learn a lesson from this. But oh, so often, we would rather hold a hurt until it festers, and then it is harder to get rid of...




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