I could write volumes about anger, having spent too many years bound by the sickness generated under its oppressive hand. Anger that grew steadily into resentment, then rage, as it simmered within my foolish heart, could have begun as the holy anger Jesus demonstrated at the temple.
In Luke 19:46 we're told that Jesus turned over the tables of the moneychangers who were cheating the people as they prepared to worship the Lord.
My anger could have begun as a healthy response to the abuse that stole much of my childhood. Later, when my parents split up, I felt robbed again; my mother stayed drunk and my father walked out.
Holy anger expresses exception to wrongdoing, and its actions can become productive.
The anger that rests in the bosom of fools, however, invariably results in destruction.
Anger, a benign term, is not good or bad; it's just an emotion, one of many that God worked into our design according to His purpose. Some of us have repressed our anger for so long, however, that our clenched jaws make our fake smiles hypocritical. I guarantee that mad feelings will find a way to escape, too often in the form of hurricane-like destruction.
Others of us have harbored resentment that trickles into self-pity, shame, blame, and chronic complaints. Still others medicate their anger with alcohol or other drugs, and some try to appease it with food.
The list of human remedies for anger is long. My recollections of smoking cessation remain so vivid that I hope never to quit again. Until I quit smoking, I thought I had done my work in the anger department, that I had finally put the brakes on rage. I never realized what powerful anger stuffers were contained in those little cigarettes until inflicting the emotion, once again, upon the people I loved most.
But God took the ravaging beast that erupted from deep inside of me, quite like a volcano, and directed the rage into 20-plus years of power walking, as well as more meaningfully healing forgiveness work.
Isn't He amazing? God will always do what we cannot do for ourselves, if we'll just ask. Actually, He has already given us everything we need by His incomparable sacrifice at the cross of Christ - if we'll just do the "leg work!"
It often seems we're left to our own devices to figure out what to do with anger, whether stirred up by external or internal cues. Anger has come to us with directions, however, and God holds the answers required to handle it effectively, as in Ephesians 4:26, that says, "Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
I conclude that the real cure for anger that's become a soul sickness is forgiveness. How does one begin? How about continuous prayer (especially for our adversaries), daily doses of Bible reading, and godly mentorship? Pride will try to get in the way, but I figure if a former rage-aholic like myself can overcome, then anybody can.
Toward whom or what do I direct angry feelings?
Why do I have them in the first place? Why? Why? Why?
Adapted from "Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World," by Dianne Finnegan Wilson. You may email Ms Wilson by visiting www.pensepublishing.com.