giving anger its rightful purpose

Emotions. We all know that no emotion is bad (at least I hope we do), that it’s just more about what you do with them. But for so many raised in a conservative and faith based house, like… I know for me at least, it took YEARS of work to begin to let myself feel angry. For so long, the emotion of anger in and of itself felt sinful. In reality, though? That could not be farther from the truth! This is a perfect example to lean into that phrase, as cliche as it is… no emotion is bad, it’s all in how you respond.

I mean, think about it. The God of the Old Testament? Talk about angry and wrathful!! Some people today have a hard time reconciling and wrapping their brains around that, and for a variety of good reasons. But if we look to God, our Creator and Savior and Father… if we look to Him as an example in this, as we should with everything in life, we can learn so much.

For one – what makes God angry? Injustice. Sin. Hurt. Pain. We may never see God vehemently angry at someone or something when one of His children is hurting, but we do have examples of Him expressing great wrath and anger towards various sin in the Old Testament. So, while we could argue that it’s so different… it’s really not. Sin is sin is sin. 

For example – think about Lot’s wife fleeing Sodom and turning into a pillar of salt. That’s an extreme example, yes. But as God poured out His wrath on the city, and as He followed through with the consequence for breaking His command to leave and not look back… it’s pretty intense. But if we stop and think… ultimately, what is behind God’s wrath here? If we had to point to one thing, one issue, that made Him angry?

Sin.
Every time.

So, then, my own life for example. I have felt angry over the years, there’s no doubt about that. A good amount of my anger has been connected with my mental illness, with the frustration it has brought, with the fatigue, with the fact that this is seemingly my “thorn in the flesh”… and so, one might look at that situation and *try* and tell me I have no reason to be angry. But what they may not realize? The sin that angered God in the Old Testament, the sin that separated God from man back in the beginning… it’s that same sin that has created a fallen world in which things like depression and bipolar disorder and anxiety can exist. And it not only creates an environment in which they exist, sin creates an environment in which all of these things thrive.

Brokenness.
Hurt.
Heartbreak.
Darkness.
Anxiety.
Depression.
Worry.

It’s all here because sin was here. So, if we as Christians want to be more and more like Jesus? I personally think it can be absolutely okay to be angry. But, since we want to be more like Jesus, we also need to realize… He didn’t stop there.

When the Father knew that there would be eternal separation because of this ugly thing called sin, He immediately put the plan in place for His only son to die on a cross. And Jesus did exactly that. So yes, God was angry and vengeful in the Old Testament. But He didn’t stop there. He was angry, sure, but then He did something about it. He did the most beautiful thing we could ever imagine about it.

So if we want to be more like Jesus? More like our Creator? The next time that wave of anger comes, the next time some huge injustice or frustration makes us (myself included!!) want to just explode? Let’s ask ourselves this:

What are we going to do about it?

I think this could be another thing Jesus was referencing when He talks about the command to “take up our cross”. I can say that, for me, Mary, when I get angry about what I have had to deal with, what I still do have to deal with, with all of the time that I lost… instead of getting lost in that anger, first of all – realize it is there for a very real and good and even Godly reason. But then, I have to ask myself: what am I going to do about it? Jesus knew that His only solution was to sacrifice Himself as the only begotten Son on the cross. We may not be able to offer that in today’s world, but maybe it means I help support research for mental illness. Maybe I keep focusing on my very intentional writing. Ultimately, though, I want to channel that anger and that emotion to make sure that I can make the message heard that I know God has given me – the message that He can and does break every chain.

So, the next time we start to feel angry… really any emotion, for that matter, but especially this complicated thing called anger… one, think about WHAT makes us angry. A broken relationship? A hurt? A major injustice? ALL of those things exist in this world because of sin. And remember – sin makes God angry.

But we can’t stop there…

Why?
Because He didn’t stop there.
Jesus, God’s only son, went to the cross.
He died – for us.
And three days later, everything changed for all of eternity.

Just a quick final thought… when I speak to the whole “what are we going to do about it”, I am NOT saying that with the intention to invalidate any real emotion. That’s the last thing I want to do. What I AM trying to suggest, however, is that we perhaps start to find purpose for the anger.

God did.
So did Jesus.
And as a result, we can be free to
feel all the feelings,
cry all the tears,
and have all the hope.

Because, dear friend, He really has overcome.

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