You won’t like me when I’m angry

Have you ever been in Walmart (you can sub Costco, HEB, or whatever’s local to you). There are 20 registers, but only 2 are open, and both are 10 people deep. You only have one item and have been in this line for ten minutes. Then another cashier FINALLY walks up, only to tell the people with full carts at the back of the line to come over. WHO JUST GOT IN LINE. This is a pet peeve of mine, and it gets me seething pretty quick. I don’t ever say anything, but it gets me pretty fired up, as I’v worked in retail and always made a point to help the person who’s actual turn it was. I’m a huge fan of the stores who have one line and then the customer in the front goes to an open register. This solves the problem described above. BUT customer service strategy isn’t what you’re here for.

Anger

hulk-marvel-actionfigure-nerd-preview

Granted I’m not “quite” as buff or strong as the Hulk, or as green (although I may put away as much food some days). But Anger is something I have struggled with. I don’t usually approach people in public places or cause any scenes, but inside myself (or in an otherwise empty truck) I have to make a pretty significant effort to tamp it down. I often felt bad for feeling angry, it gave me guilt more than once. But once I got into scripture I began to see things that made me think maybe I was going about it all wrong.

   ‘A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.’

Proverbs 29:11

   That verse has to do with all feelings, but anger as well. This was the first time I began to consider that maybe it was more about my reactions and behaviors. Reflections on one of my favorite stories in the Bible slid another piece into place:

‘Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”’

Matthew 21:12-13

‘So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”’

Mark 11:15-17

      While the scripture doesn’t use the word “anger”, but from how that interaction goes, I would say there’s a fair chance Jesus was more than a little upset. I mean, he went in and started flipping tables. Same guy that made a whip, MADE it himself, and chased people out of the temple. Two more verses that show anger in relation to God:

‘So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. ‘

Numbers 12:9

‘So the Lord ’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, ‘ Numbers 32:10

 

Anger itself is not sinful. How can it be? If God/Jesus is without sin, then anger can not be a sin. Maybe, just maybe, it’s how we respond and direct it that is the real problem. I come back to a verse above:

‘A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.’

Proverbs 29:11

   My favorite thing about the Bible is how it has a lesson or story for just about anything we can encounter. The Bible the is actual WORD of GOD, not the ramblings of some bearded dudes in the desert, but the actual communications from the creator of the universe. So you can take it to the bank when it says something in there. So according to Proverbs, if I wan’t to be a wise man, I will make an effort to hold that anger in check and try to find another way to express myself.

Now, of course we want to be wise, and patient, and strong (anger is just one of my personal struggles). It may sound awful, but I find myself so hesitant sometimes to pray and ask God for these things. Because do you really think he will just give you magic patience where suddenly nothing gets on your nerves? Or how about you suddenly know how to react to every situation with astounding wisdom? Maybe you will immediately weather all storms without letting it get to you with Samson style mental strength. Nah, I don’t think so either.

More likely, he will give you opportunities to show these attributes. So by praying for patience, you may actually be asking to be tested. Because as with the physical, we are developed through repetition and work. Muscles grow only after being worked out. Steel is only strengthened and sharpened after it has been heated and hammered, several times. In the same manner the tests and trials that we go through sharpen and shape our capacity for fruitful behaviors (we’re supposed to be “known by our fruits”, right?). The bible even tells us that if we aren’t facing obstacles to our ministry and walk with God, then we probably aren’t doing it right. If we were doing it wrong, wouldn’t Satan probably leave us alone? Because “doing it wrong” is exactly what he wants. Here’s a couple of verses in reference to that:

‘Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” -Matt. 5:11

“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” -Luke 21:17

That list could go on and on. Those are from Jesus in the NT, but there are numerous times throughout the Bible where Christians are told that they will suffer or face hardships during their pursuit of God.

So really that line in Walmart is just God’s way of shaping me into the Christian I need to be. Which isn’t really surprising, since that place is like one huge test of every shred of sanity I have left. I also think that Dante might have forgotten to add “Walmart” as the next level when he wrote Inferno.

The takeaway? Like we talked about last time, shift your focus when you get into one of these situations. See the opportunity you have to hone whatever it is that God has seen as a need in your life.

Be. The. Rock

 

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Published by

Andy Johnson

Andy has a decade of Student Ministry experience and is now a school administrator in NE Texas.

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