In one of my former jobs I hung a poster outside my cubicle showing Lucy from “Peanuts” screaming, “Look out, everybody! I’m gonna be cranky for the rest of the day!” Lucy’s announcement became a joke with my coworkers, because she’s so not like me. I don’t usually show anger.
In my youth I learned that anger was unacceptable, possibly because I often saw it misused. Then when I came to Christ, this faulty message was reinforced in church. After all, good Christian boys and girls never get angry, right? Wrong. Not only is this teaching wrong, but God expects that we’ ll experience anger. Jesus never said, “Don’t get angry,” but rather Paul instructs us to “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26, nkjv). In this scripture He acknowledged that people would get angry. Why? Because anger is a secondary response to emotional pain. No doubt there’s a lot of emotional pain to go around on this sin-filled planet. Anger will happen!
Anger is a red light on the dashboard of a car signaling that something’s wrong under the hood—that there’s a hurt we need to give to God, or perhaps forgiveness we need to grant someone. Anger also has the potential to take us to places of deeper intimacy with Christ when we bring our disappointments to Him for healing.
How can you do this? Yell or scream when no one is around, or run outside and holler. You can also do what author Muriel Cook calls “hot pen journaling.” Write down your true emotions without sweetening them. Be real. Tell God the truth. Then ask Him to show you what’s fueling your anger so He can minister to your pain through prayer and His Word to help you avoid becoming offended. Conversing with God about your anger thwarts Satan’s plan to destroy your affection for Christ, because it keeps communication open with Christ.
Some time ago I was angry when someone I loved hurt my feelings. Rather than denying how I felt, or sinning by taking it out on someone, I beat up my bed. I yelled. I screamed. I clobbered it as hard as I could. I felt one hundred percent better. I forgave the person who wounded me and thanked God for loving me. Minutes later I was singing a song, proclaiming His truth and praising His name.
For some people, being real about their anger may sound sacrilegious. After all, aren’t the most holy [people] composed and postured, even when the world and the devil walk all over them? The psalmists, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were honest with God about their most raw emotions—including anger. To cry out in anger and anguish because life hurts is normal.
I’m not saying it’s okay to mock God or treat Him with irreverence. Certainly there’s a difference between taking your anger to God for healing and aiming your anger at God in defiance and rage. Taking your anger to God in humility means that you’re operating in faith, that you feel safe enough to trust Him with your most uncomfortable and ugly emotions, and to approach His throne of grace with confidence to find mercy in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
It also means you’ve opened your heart to Him in faith, knowing He has an answer for your disappointment.
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