Emotions are complex and express themselves in different ways. Familiar examples are love, joy, happiness, gratefulness, hate, depression, sadness, anger, and others. They all have different expressions and different outcomes.
How often have you seen the various little sun-shaped faces used in texts, emails, or other forms of communication? Their purpose is to make a point about what emotion someone may be expressing at that time. These little iconic symbols have the potential to trigger one or more of the feelings listed above.
One of the most common, and probably the most fluid of all the emotions, is anger. It usually is triggered when someone believes their rights (or another’s) have been violated. When this happens, two things are stirred up in the mind of the person who becomes angry. One is revenge and getting even. The other is bitterness and unforgiveness. At this point, one can exercise their privilege to engage in these actions or do the opposite and yield the right by overcoming anger and bitterness. That means, blow it off and forgive.
Anger is a natural response and is considered justified, given certain conditions. For example, The Philistines had gathered their forces for war, determined to wipe out Israel. Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, provoked the soldiers of Israel. David, a young 22-year-old shepherd boy, was stirred to anger by the curses of Goliath. But his actions were driven by his love of Israel and his trust in God. He killed Goliath with a stone from his slingshot and then cut off Goliath’s head. If there is such a thing as being on the righteous side of anger, this is a powerful illustration.
When anger becomes all-consuming like a forest fire in the soul and festers like an infected aneurism in the brain, it will increase vulnerability to unhealthy consequences. Anger is an epic contributor to expressions of violence and hate.
Hundreds of the most celebrated movies of all time include the themes of anger and revenge. The Bible is no exception. When one of David’s sons raped his half-sister, his son, Absalom, plotted for two years to avenge the defilement of his virgin sister. He finally succeeded in carrying out his plot to kill his half-brother. Even more dramatic is my personal battle to overcome my anger and unforgiveness toward my former spouse.
The right to become angry exists in all of us, but this privilege often carries a high price tag. The cost of anger can be measured statistically through hospitals, mental institutions, among military service members, first responders, divorces, broken friendships, fractured families, churches, political parties, racism, other countries, broken agreements—even our four-legged best friends if they could talk, would share their experience with anger.
By now, some of you may be expressing cynicism. “Control anger? That is a joke, and easier said than done.”
I would, rather emphatically, agree with you. Today’s environments contradict every possibility that controlling anger is attainable. However, before you completely throw away the idea that it is possible to control/overcome anger, permit me to ask a few questions.
If you put all of the outcomes of anger in one column and the outcomes of love in the other, which column do you think would be greater? (1 John 3:1)
There are a few steps we can take to move us closer toward the control of anger:
I have to admit that I realize it is not easy to control anger, but it certainly is possible. Although it will take some work, I look forward to hearing about your healthier journey toward the direction to control your anger.