Our church had its typical old grouch. The man served in various leadership positions and could be counted on to bring his bucket of cold water to douse any spark of creativity or youthful enthusiasm.
Proverbs 29:22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
You know the type, because every church – no, every organization – has at least one. Negative Ned. Naysayer. Angry old men find places to exert their control. They yell, “Get off my lawn!” So do angry old women. We’ve met them as well. Either they offer their judgmental complaints, or they stare with silent scowl.
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
But the elderly are not the only people who are mad at the world. Young people who put their energy behind their anger can be dangerous. The developmental lack of judgement, coupled with a lack of self-control, can result in scary, unrestrained reactions.
Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
Even children throw temper tantrums, or sulk into a corner, or plot their revenge against those whom they feel have done them wrong. They want things to go their way.
Middle aged folks aren’t off the hook, either. Our divided nation is evidence of people livid over political directions our leaders in both parties have taken. They want things to go their way. Add that to more personal issues at home, on their job, or baggage from the past, and we seem to be a frustrated, angry lot.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Most of the stories on our newscasts stem from angry reactions to something. Even our newscasters are angry.
It seems to be the prevalent attitude. Do we think it shows how much we care about something if it’s wrapped in outrage? Do we feel that we won’t be heard unless we make a mad face and say it with passion? Is that the way we want to go through life?
Everyone can’t afford to act out their anger, so it often gets turned inward. Some people swallow it so often that it makes them sick. We call that depression.
It’s nothing new. Shakespeare said, through his character Macbeth:
“Life’s…a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
In the years I spent as a mental health therapist, anger issues were a primary reason for seeing the counselor. Often, the client didn’t know that, at first. They felt they had suffered injustice, so they had a right to be irate. The right to be angry doesn’t justify reacting in inappropriate ways. And carrying all that emotion with its mental and physiological consequences will eat you up. Many pay a heavy price.
Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
I could write about anger management techniques. I taught them to children and adults for years. It can work, but I believe the spiritual component is a necessary piece of the healing process.
Anger is a secondary emotion. If you scratch the surface, underneath the anger, there is usually hurt or fear. Those softer, weaker-seeming emotions may be harder to deal with than the strong outward expression we show to the world. We feel like we need to hold on to this anger, or we will lose something of ourselves.
Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
We need a Savior who can rescue us from our self-imposed entanglements. He knows what it’s like to be angry, but more importantly, to forgive. We need the Great Physician to touch the hurts before He can do spiritual surgery. We need the Prince of Peace to bring His shalom into our lives.
Matthew 6:12 Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.
Mathew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.
CREDIT: Top photo from Shutterstock