Kicking and screaming?


Unless you’re completely out of touch you are aware that Americans are an angry lot. Demonstrators filled up the halls of government to protest. One of our Senators said that never before had he feared for his life, but now he wonders if some angry person will try to kill him.  I believe that the levels of anger in our nation are taking us to dangerous places from which there can be no return.

I enjoy Facebook as a way to stay in touch with my friends and family but recently I have found it necessary to stop seeing the posts of some of my friends, not because of their opinions, but because of the level of anger in their posts. I have heard more than one of my friends admit to feeling discouraged and spiritually depleted. Often it is unresolved anger that saps their spiritual strength like an internal bleed!

Solomon reminds us that anger is a dangerous thing. “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9, NIV)  I confess that lack of patience and a temper has led me onto the fool’s pathway too many times in life.

Anger can be useful. Paul teaches us to ‘be angry, but don’t sin.’   He goes on to tell us that anger cannot be left to simmer for days. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Another translation says, “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” (Ephesians 4:26, NLT)  A person who cannot feel anger over injustice, who cannot care deeply enough about people to be stirred in their emotions, may avoid anger but they are likely to slip into another state which makes them useless in the work of God – apathy.

So how do we turn the anger into a reason for positive action, draining the toxic bitterness from our life?

First, if you are angry, admit it- to yourself and to the Lord. Say, “I am angry” without offering excuse or justification.  

Thinking that all anger is sinful, there are many Christians who refuse to face it honestly.  People get offended but insist they are ‘just sad,’ when they are really angry!  They become are raging inside but will only say, that they are ‘hurt.’   If you’re angry at political developments, at people, at God – admit it.  Only then will you be able to deal with it and give the Holy Spirit a place to begin a heart change.

Second, work at understanding the cause of your anger.  

Anger is often misdirected.
We get angry when our boss overlooks us at work, but focus the anger on our wife when she tries to tell us something.

We grow frustrated and angry over chronic illness and it boils over on our kids.  God, the Holy Spirit, will help you (as will a good, honest friend) to understand the root of rage, but when He does, be prepared to work hard at change, starting with that person who stares back at you from your mirror.

Third, kill the fantasies!  Missed expectations feed a ton of rage.

Wouldn’t we love a wonderful world where everyone was nice, all dreams came true, and people lived happily ever after? The sooner we decide to deal with the world as it is rather than pretending that somewhere, out there, there is a place where life works as we desire, the better our lives will be. People aren’t perfect. Dreams don’t always come true, no matter how hard you work at them.

Acceptance of our limitations and of the situations in which we find ourselves provides great release from unnecessary anger. That does not that we must give up, surrender hope, or stop praying for change.  But, we must ask the Spirit of God to help us to know the difference between our fantasies about a ‘perfect’ world and His dream for our life which He will equip us to fulfill.

Fourth, ENDURE! Steady yourself and face the future.

A friend who is in AA, reminded me of a basic truth that recovering alcoholics learn – “Send your body and your heart will follow!” In other words, sometimes we do the right things, just because they are the right things, not because we feel great passion, enthusiasm, or joy! Sometimes the very best method of dealing with anger is simply to determine to outlast your enemies and critics as you kill’em with kindness. That endurance is sustained by the realization that there is coming a day of just rewards for us all.

Christians can set aside a lot of anger if they keep the promise of God’s Great Reversal in sight by faith. The injustice that comes to us personally and in the larger world, the seeming lack of consequence for some terrible sin, the ‘triumph of the wicked,’ can make us really angry if we fail to hope for that day when Christ and His kingdom will come and with Him will come the justice for which we pray. “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And a righteous person will live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38, NLT)

This word from the Word is one to which I turn from time to time.  It is the resolution of the anger felt by one who experiences delayed justice.  “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:21-26, NLT)


Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation purchase of God
Born of His Spirit washed in His blood

 This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

 Perfect submission perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy whispers of love 

Perfect submission all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest
Watching and waiting looking above
Filled with His goodness lost in His love

Fanny Jane Crosby | Phoebe Palmer Knapp © Words: Public Domain

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