God bless. Really enjoyed the online article about Overcoming Bitterness by Lawrence Kelley. The analogy of the "sweet wood" of the cross making our bitter souls sweet was excellent. I am going to share that at our next Bible Study.
He did, however, contradict the scriptures when he wrote: "He (God) puts us in circumstances that reveal our shortcomings to us." That contradicts I John 1:5 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." and James 1:13 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
We may find ourselves in circumstances that the tempter, the thief, the adversary aka the devil throws at us but as I Corinthians 10:13 says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
God does not play games or tricks or put negative circumstance in our path. Life is fraught with challenges and negatives because there is an adversary that causes adversity. I Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" John 10:10 "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
Please do not be one of those wonderful ministries that has so much to offer but confuse its followers by attributing evil to God our Heavenly Father. How can we trust a God who hurts us one minute and wants us to trust Him the next? If He is the Lord who does not change, then we are misunderstanding the scriptures as an eastern book filled with idioms like "the idiom of permission." There are places in the scriptures where God is spoken of as actively doing something that seems to be contrary to His nature, or that seems to be contrary to the testimony of other scripture on the same subject. In some of these cases, God is spoken of as actively doing something that, in reality, He only permitted to happen. This is the idiom of permission.
"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:7-9).
Let's notice a few things here. Paul was given a wondrous vision, but there was a danger that it would go to his head. Satan was allowed to annoy Paul in some fashion. Therefore, notice that while the thorn in Paul's flesh came from Satan and not God, God was making use of it to improve Paul. When Paul asked to be delivered from this thorn in his flesh, he was told he needed to live with it. Paul learned to accept his weakness. What Satan used, we don't know. It doesn't necessarily have to be sin. We see Satan using all sorts of misery to bring Job down in chapters 1 and 2 of Job. And Job's case is like Paul's. God didn't cause the misery, but Satan did get permission from God to bring that misery into Job's life. And by the time we reach the end of Job, we find that the misery shaped and improved Job's character so that he was a better man at the end than he was in the beginning.
"You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed" (Hebrews 12:4-13).
Scourgings do come from God, and they are not pleasant. They are not fun to live through. But they do shape our character and improve us. God doesn't tempt people with evil, but He does allow evil to challenge us so that we improve as we overcome the difficulties. That is what is implied in I Corinthians 10:13. God limits Satan in what he can tempt us with, but God doesn't stop Satan from all temptations. Instead, God uses the inclination of the wicked to further His Will.
Who threw Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden? Who flooded the world? "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (II Peter 3:5-6). Why did God tell Abraham to offer up his son, Isaac? Who sent serpents, plagues, and war into Israel when they sinned? Despite your contention, God does "put negative circumstances in people's paths." Those "negatives" were not sin, but they certainly weren't encouraging either. When comes the end, it won't be God allowing Satan to take people into hell; it will be God sending the evil into eternal punishment.
Many attempt to simplify their concept of God. Often the simplified version is far from the truth. "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22). Like a good parent, God is both encouraging, kind, and loving while being severe. It isn't playing of games, it is shaping of character and a revealing of what a person is made inside. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:29). What sorts of things did Paul have in mind? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter"" (Romans 8:35-36). When Paul said all things, he meant all things -- including the evil in the world. Evil thinks it is triumphing, but God twists the apparent victory into His own victory.