Lately it seems like my life is unraveling and negative emotions are getting the best of me. Because of job stress, a rebellious teenager, and the constant worry about finances, even the good things in my life seem to be turning sour. As a Christian, I know what scripture teaches about our different emotions and I have a thousand reasons to be joyful. So why do I feel so angry all the time?
Great question! Welcome to the human race. This is something we all struggle with at times, some of us more often than others. And while our anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires for us (James 1:20), we read that even the Lord became angry at times. For example, “The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1 Kings 11:9). Those of us with children can relate to that kind of anger. Don’t we get angry, too, when our children turn away from and disobey all that we have taught them? Even Jesus “made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market’” (John 2:15-16)! Christ’s zeal for the true worship of God was evident in his actions toward those who were desecrating the temple of God by selling the sacrificial animals in the place where others came to pray.
If we analyze our anger, quite often we will find that our anger towards people, like our disobedient children or those outside the faith who preach the gospel of tolerance for everything we know to be in direct opposition to God’s Word, is born out of the frustration that we cannot persuade them to embrace a personal relationship with God and live according to his holy standards. Sometimes I do get angry with my teenager because his self-centered behavior is simply annoying, but more often than not the anger I feel is driven by my passionate desire that he know and walk in the truth and love of God. Sadly, I don’t convey that passion in a very healthy manner and sometimes lash out at him with anger and frustration.
Our enemy, the devil, has great power and authority on the earth and one of his most effective tools for disarming Christians and discrediting our testimony is causing us to walk in anger and frustration rather than in love for one another. So how can we live more self-controlled lives and walk in the joy that God desires for us rather than the anger that man provokes in us? The truth is we can’t, apart from the control of God’s Holy Spirit who lives inside of us.
In order to win the battle against anger, we need to ask ourselves why we are angry instead of beating ourselves up every time we give in to anger. James writes, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it…You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:1-2). Those of us with children can certainly relate to these verses. Don’t our children fight over toys, time on the computer, and who gets to ride front-seat shotgun? And don’t we quarrel with our older children because we want so badly for them to walk in the joy that comes from a personal relationship with God and obedience to his Word?
Rather than make mountains out of mole hills and allow every little frustration to defeat us, we need to look at our relationships and the struggles we face in light of God’s Word. We need to know the Word, be obedient to it, and hold God to his promises! Cultivate a thankful heart by praising God for the many blessings he has given you. Look at what others are going through and ask yourself if what you are facing is really worth all the anger you feel.
Talk to God about your anger, rather than vent to someone else who can do little or nothing about it, and ask God to fill you with his peace. Forgive the offender so that you can in turn receive God’s forgiveness (Luke 6:37). When you can learn to forgive others and release your anger to God, then you will no longer be held captive by it.
Many of us fail to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit which is ours as believers. When we accept Christ, we don’t receive a kid’s meal portion of the Holy Spirit but rather a supersize portion—the full measure—of the power that raised Christ from the dead (Philippians 3:10). When we begin to live by the Spirit then we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-23, 25-26).
Anger is a spiritual issue. The only way we can truly work through the negative aspects of anger is by surrendering every area of our lives to God. We cannot control how or when our loved ones will become reconciled to God, but we can live our lives in such a manner that they are drawn to him, not driven away from him. We cannot right every social injustice, but we can pray to the One who can. When we stop trying to be God and let him take care of the things we cannot control, then anger will dissipate and joy will abound.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV).
Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com