I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once the hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
The only power greater than hate is love. Jesus taught His followers, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He demonstrated His teaching by praying for those who nailed Him on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
The secret for managing hurt and disappointment is to transform it into the power of prayer. “Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation” (Jesus). Paul declared, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Take positive action against adversity.
It is impossible for us to love our enemies without supernatural intervention. Our natural tendency is to return to others what they give to us. “If you hate a person, you hate something in them that is a part of yourself. What isn’t a part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us” (Hermann Hesse). Bitterness and hatred are all about self. The thought of loving an enemy can be outlandish if we think about it in the natural, for it requires a double portion of God’s grace just to love our friends and family. But God wants more from us; He expects us to reach outside of ourselves and allow Him to strengthen us.
Prayer is an effective tool against the passions of our flesh. When we love those that hate us then we know that the Lord is moving in our lives. “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (Peter). When we choose to love our enemies, the anointing of the Holy Spirit empowers us with supernatural ability. That is why Stephen could pray as an angry mob stoned him to death, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).