“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
Ressentir is an old French word, literally meaning “intense feeling.” In English, it is resent, and it refers to feeling pain and indignation due to injustice or insult. People may feel resentful when they are cheated on, stolen from, or lied to. Resentment is often a reaction to being insulted or having one’s errors or weaknesses exposed. Resentment can be directed at an action, a statement, or a person—often, an authority figure, such as a parent, a teacher, or God. Resentment is the cheapest and least legitimate form of anger. It is all emotion and no strength. Resentment is a passive, weak emotion that has no place in the Christian life. If there is injustice, we should deal with it through prayer and godly action. If there is insult, we should concentrate on who we are in Christ and not place too much value on the cruel words of others. If we face injustice in the course of our work for God, we should accept it as to be expected. And if God allows us to be dishonored for the sake of sanctification, the best, least painful response is to repent and allow Him to work in us.
Feeling persistently resentful toward other people — the boss who fired you, the spouse who cheated on you — can indeed affect your physical health, according to the book, “Embitterment: Societal, psychological, and clinical perspectives” by Michael Linden and Andreas Maercker. In fact, the negative power of feeling bitter is so strong that the authors call for the creation of a new diagnosis called PTED, or post-traumatic embitterment disorder, to describe people who can’t forgive others’ transgressions against them. Just so we are clear, I don’t necessarily buy into all these new medical diagnosis for different types of behavior disorders that the bible would simply call sin. But some do have legitimate issues and concerns.
Feeling bitter interferes with the body’s hormonal and immune systems, and studies have shown that bitter, angry people have higher blood pressure and heart rate and are more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses.
Author Maya Angelou has every reason to feel bitter. She was raped as a child, then she was overwhelmed with guilt when her rapist, an uncle, was murdered by another family member. She was mute for several years. Still, she says she never felt bitterness toward her attacker. “I never hated him, and I’m glad of that,” she says.
As an adult, she’s continued that mind-set. “If someone hurts my feelings or hurts me in any way, I’m not going to carry this bitterness around with me. I will not give it a place to live in me because I know that’s dangerous.”