Bittersweet 101


Photo by Benjamin Wagner on Unsplash

Discussing my father with the Father I started thinking how bittersweet my life has become. I said to him. “This year is so bittersweet.”

A thought filtered through my pain, “Learn the bittersweet.”

Puzzled I tried to figure out the phrase. Finally I whispered, “I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense to me.” Another thought whispers in my brain, “You like bittersweet chocolate.” I smiled at the thought of one of my favorite foods. Ah hah… A chuckle whispers through my mind.

I decide I need to learn more about what bittersweet means in words, to God, and to me. Just what does the word mean?

  • Adjective: Both bitter and sweet; both happy and sad
  • Noun: A poisonous climbing flowering plant with fruit that taste bitter then sweet.

[Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)

According to bittersweet is a middle English word dating back to years 1350-1500. The word is literally bitter plus sweet. Bitter is traced back to year 1000 and the Norse word bitr, and Gothic word baitrs to bite. Sweet is traced back to before year 900 to the Latin words suādēre to recommend, and suāvis pleasant.

I found the word ‘bittersweet’ is not in the bible, at least in the translations I searched. However there are passages describing the bitter and the sweet together. The first passage I find is Exodus 15:22-27. Moses leads Israel from the Red Sea into the wilderness of Shur. They walked for three days before finding water. But the water was bitter. The place was named Marah (bitter). The people murmured “What shall we drink?” Moses took the question to God. God showed him the solution and with some effort on Moses’s part the water was made sweet:

Exodus 15:25-27 NKJV – “25So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statues, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” 27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

The way I see it right now is the bitter and sweet are separate to God. The bitter seems to be the problems we face. The sweet is the solutions provided. God feels the bitter with us. It saddens Him. He provides ways for us to find the solutions. Then He rejoices with us in the sweetness.

The Lord our God took what was bitter and made it sweet for his chosen people. He is doing the same for me today. As I prepare to go visit with my dad today, I do not know what I am walking into. He could be happy, depressed, accepting, angry, pleased, or reject me. What I do know is my husband will support me as we go today. Best of all, when I ask, and believe you me! I’m asking! God will turn the bitterness into sweetness.

In the simple statement to God, “This year is so bittersweet.” I have found is a study in God’s Word to help me walk this path. This reminds me of my posts on Virtue and Vice. Two sides to this journey, Bitter and Sweet. I will “learn the bittersweet,” along with the ‘bitter’ and the ‘sweet’ in the Word. I’m pretty sure this means I will be writing more about my “bitter” and “sweet” journey with my dad and God.

I hope this part of my transition will bless you too. Love and peace


P.S. I don’t know if the vine in the picture is actually Bittersweet. On, It looked the closest to the pictures in Bing. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen actual bittersweet vine. I also liked the picture. The poignancy depicted in the image spoke to me today. I hope you enjoy it too.

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