Does God Have an Answer for my Anger?
When we become angry we can do and say things that we later regret. And when we hold on to our anger for awhile we can become bitter and lose the peace that God intended for us to enjoy. We may really want to follow Jesus and be a good Christian. But offenses will come into our lives that can trip us up and cause us to become angry. And our anger can open the door to back biting and hatred and other dark emotions that can keep us from walking the Christian walk! So what are we to do?
We can become angry for several different reasons. First of all we can become angry when we are hurt or rejected by friends or loved ones. When a bond is broken that we never imagined would break. A joyful parent does his best caring for his dearly beloved child and then the child grows up and cuts the parent out of his life. We all have a need to be loved and to belong. And we can use anger to try to protect ourselves from the pain of rejection and from the loss we experience when we are shunned by those we care about.
We can feel angry when our performance is not accepted and when our best efforts are thwarted. An employee does her best on the job, working overtime year after year and dedicating herself and all of her efforts to her company. And then one day her employer fires her and hires someone else. We like to feel that we matter and our efforts matter and that we make a difference. So we can become angry when our sense of significance is threatened and when others do not treat us the way we think they should.
We can become angry when our rights are violated and when we believe we have been treated unfairly. Perhaps we have been overlooked for a promotion or not given the respect or pay or position that we feel we deserve. Perhaps we have been cheated or criticized or made fun of or ignored or insulted. In these situations we can react with anger along with other unpleasant emotions.
And we can become angry when we feel threatened or worried. Perhaps we work for forty years for the same company and over those forty years, each month we pay into a retirement fund with the promise of receiving those funds back upon retirement. But then upon retirement we find out that the contract that we worked under all those years has been broken and our retirement fund has been emptied out by the company we worked for. And we are left without the monies we had counted on as we are entering old age. Everyone has a need for security and we can feel angry when our security and our future has been jeopardized.
Yes, as long as we live on this planet we can count on offenses coming into our lives – hurtful situations that can cause us to become angry. Scripture says: “Humans are born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) And we know that the sparks from the flames of an open fire always do fly upward.
But God speaks to us through Scripture and tells us how to deal with these offenses and what to do with our anger and our emotional pain. “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath or give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) God tells us to give our pain and our anger to Him. He will deal with it. And come to Him quickly with it. Do not even hold onto our pain and anger overnight.
You are never powerless because you have the power to release your pain and anger to God. If there is something you can do to make the situation better then do it. But then leave the outcome in God’s hands. He can take care of what is making us angry when often it is too much for us to handle. Surrender our situation and our self to God. “Casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
When we are angry at someone, God commands us to forgive. The Lord’s prayer states: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:9) Also: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col.3:13)
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. We can forgive the person for the offense that was done against us even if we don’t reconcile. We can forgive even when the other person is still angry with us. Forgiveness requires no relationship. It is a decision to release the offender – Let it go and give it up.– let God deal with him/her. But reconciliation requires a relationship where both people agree to be open and friendly toward one another. So reconciliation requires two people and forgiveness only requires one person – you. Forgiveness is a gift to the one who has broken trust. But reconciliation is a restored relationship based on restored trust.
God commands us, His children to forgive those who sin against us. (even when we don’t want to) It is God’s place to deal with the sin that others commit against us – not our place. God calls us as His children to give up our right to revenge and to pray for the offender: to be children of light. To walk in humility and love. Others will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)
A judgmental and legalistic spirit has no place in the lives of God’s children. When I see groups today constantly criticizing and hating and spreading vicious anger on and on and never forgiving and then all in the name of Christianity I wonder where they are coming from and which god they are following! Will anyone come to Christ if these people who are so filled with hate are representing Him?
Instead of demanding that others meet our needs for love and significance and security we need to learn how to lean on the Lord to meet our needs for love as well as our needs for everything else. Over and over in Scripture God expresses His wish to be loved by His children. The first commandment reads: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” (Exodus 20:3) And God’s love for us, His children, is more than we can ever imagine. We need to bask in His unconditional love for us. And when we feel marginalized and un-loved by friends or family we can build ourselves up in God’s love. He is always there for us making us strong.
Here are several Scripture verses declaring God’s love for us, His children. Let’s repeat them over to ourselves and make them our own. Love God with all you have and receive God’s love for yourself personally. “I have loved you with an everlasting love: I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the person who trusts in Him... I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever…The Lord’s love is with those who fear Him (revere Him)” (Psalm 32:10,89:1:103:17) “How great is the love You have lavished on me that I should be called a child of God.” (1 John 3:1)
And also: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come. Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:L38-39) And “My God shall supply all of your needs, according to His riches in glory.” (Philippians 4:19) “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor.9:8)
When we read the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) we see that Jesus teaches us to pray for deliverance from evil. Part of his prayer is a warning: “Keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil” He prays. (Matthew 6:13) When we refuse to let go of our anger we are playing with evil. We need to be on guard against this temptation.
When we are wronged by others, we can be tempted to stay angry for a long time. But when we hold onto anger and refuse to forgive we develop a bitter spirit. We can ask God for help in obeying His command and forgiving the person or people who have sinned against us and He will answer that prayer.
When we surround ourselves with the knowledge of God’s love then we are able with God’s help to endure the slings and slights and hurts that will come our way in this life. Only God can meet all of our inner needs for love, significance and security. We need to cling to Him. Scripture says: “The Lord is with me: I will not be afraid of what people can do to me!” (Psalm 118:6)
Some of the Scriptures and ideas in this blog were taken from the booklet “Anger, Facing the Fire Within” by June Hunt