I grew up with the idea that anger was a bad thing. I thought that it was surely sinful to be angry with God. I was reluctant to express my anger toward anyone, fearing God would send lightening from heaven to strike me where I stood. But the Bible never tells us that anger is bad.
As an adult reading the psalms, I came to understand the healthiness of expressing anger constructively. King David was considered a man after God's own heart and yet he often told God how angry, frustrated, and disappointed he was. What a blessing that we can take these emotions to God and let him bring healing to our emotional burdens.
Our emotions are part of the way God designed us. Emotions are not right and wrong. Having emotions is a normal part of being human. Anger is an expression of experiencing hurt or pain. Anger can be very righteous and motivating when we channel it correctly. We can be angry about injustice to ourselves and in the world, and that anger can motivate us to care for those who are marginalized.
Yet anger can be dangerous if it goes unchecked. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Allowing the seed of anger to fester within us is giving the devil a foothold in our relationships. You are a child of God and deserve to be treated properly, but being angry doesn't necessarily make you right. We should not lash out in anger, but instead try to understand the other person's point of view. If we wallow in anger by giving our spouses the silent treatment, we are also building walls between us and our spouses. Lashing out or retreating into our anger are both unhelpful responses. Being angry about an injustice can motivate us to reach out in compassion to our brothers and sisters who are hurting.
Anger always underlies another emotion--anger is a response to being threatened, but what emotion is the threat? Do you feel disrespected, or confused, or out of control, or fearful of abandonment? Try to name the emotions behind the anger. Naming the emotion helps us to feel less overwhelmed and makes the conversation more productive. Am I sad, mad, frustrated, restless, confused, or anxious? We should talk with our spouses about the pain we feel. Productive discussions can happen only when we acknowledge our feelings and choose to discuss our emotions in a positive way.
Those around us may not care about the emotional burdens that we bear, but God longs to carry the burdens of our hearts. King David set a good example by bringing those emotions to God. He poured out his heart and processed those feelings of anger and allowed God to heal the hurt underneath those feelings. How comfortable are you in talking to God in this way? Praying the psalms might be a great starting point!
I once allowed anger and resentment to build walls that separated me from God. I wish I had realized sooner that there is healing and restoration in bringing my feelings to God. He so wants to know our hearts, even when they are full of pain. Don't waste days allowing anger to rule your life! Let God carry your pain and show you constructive ways to channel it.
Rev. Deb Koster