Ephesians 4:26 (The Message)
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
Abuse survivors tend to land on one of two sides of the fence when it comes to this topic.
Either they-we are in denial…. “Anger? Who me? Are you serious, really? I’m not angry, not me, I mean after all how can I be? I mean – I forgave them. It was so long ago it doesn’t matter. I am so over what happened.”
Or it’s all about our anger… “You bet I’m mad! I have every right to be! Look what happened to me! Wouldn’t you be? I can’t help that I have such a short temper it’s all my abusers fault, they made me this way!”
There are two different concepts to anger I think we should look at.
- 1. Anger (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anger) A feeling of great annoyance or antagonism as the result of some real or supposed grievance; rage; wrath
- 2. Righteous Anger (http://bereanchristian.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/righteous-anger/) Righteous anger is justified and godly. It reflects a healthy spiritual walk with God where the Christian’s emotional make-up is likened to that of God’s. The closer he walks with God, the closer he is like God in all things including the demonstration of the emotion called righteous anger!
Do you see the difference? How one is all about you-me while the other is God?
I know for me, I thought I didn’t have any anger about my abuse. Boy was I wrong. I was more like a pressure cooker with no release valve; let it build and build over the years in my denial until I could be heard “singing,” I AM FINISHED, DONE, HAD ENOUGH, loud and clear! I just boiled over from time to time letting my steam off. The problem was because of my denial I generally misdirected my outbursts ending up hurting those I least wanted to, myself included.
Am I saying you-we have no right to anger? No right to feel it when we remember all that was visited upon us? What we endured?
Of course not!
However, God is saying, “be angry and sin not!” This is where righteous anger comes in. As we yield our anger from all we suffered to our God – let it go as we leave it to Him to be the judge – He can transform us.
To do this, take your eyes off of yourself – look to Christ instead. Yield the abuse to this truth – I am more than my abuse thus more than my anger. Don’t you think Christ could have chosen to be angry as He hung upon the cross – be angry with us since He went there in our stead? He could have been angry at everything including His Father. Yet, He wasn’t. Luke 23:34 (King James) “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Whenever one sees Christ angry in the Bible it is a righteous anger – such as at those who were defiling God’s house, John 2:14-16 (The Message) “When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!”
Have you figured out the difference yet?
When we are angry, angry to the point of a wrath that controls our thoughts and actions we are really “selfishly angry.” Mad at the way we suffered, at what we bore, we, we, and we, being what I want you to think about. We, we, we at them, them, them.
Do you really think this will lead you to forgive? Forgive as Christ forgave you?
Instead seek the Lord’s presence as you seek to follow His example. Yield your anger to God that He may settle it with a righteous anger to flow instead. Not anger at the sinner who sinned against you but the sin itself. Use that to fuel your healing, to change you as it purifies you of the scar tissue of your abuse.
All anger does is cause festering and infection, yield it instead to your Great Surgeon’s scalpel to purge your wound, as His touch heals you…
from the inside out
Anger, raw, real and festering was what I found I carried around. An anger that on one level I liked finding, liked how it felt to finally admit I had it. It felt “good” to wrap myself around it, to admit I was upset with someone’s actions against me or words spoken. Thing is this translates to, “It’s all about how I feel in it.” The challenge here is to allow the feeling to come – feel the emotion to process it and what happened while not becoming it. This we cannot do on our own, God within us is the key to releasing the anger by seeing with His heart and eyes – a heart that forgives and eyes that look away from self.
What are some triggers to anger in your life? Look at interactions with others – your reactions to their words or actions.
What makes you angry when these things happen or are said to you?
Now, let’s take a moment and pray the prayer below. Then come back to this section.
Now, let’s look at the answers to the above questions as we seek God’s help to see them with righteous anger. To feel them only to process the emotions and happening without becoming the anger – do this by God’s power in you – answer each question again from this perspective.
Then write out your own prayer to God in relation to your anger. Seek His presence as you quiet yourself before Him – His transforming power, His peace to replace that anger along with His agape love, a love unto forgiving.
Psalm 4:4 (The Message) “Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for His verdict.”
Father, God, I thank You that You are my Deliverer, my Conquerour and my Salvation. I ask that You would open my eyes and heart to truth now, to the truth of what is feeding my anger. Show me how my abuse has molded my response to when I perceive an offense against me. Help me to yield that past pain to You that I may be purified, my anger that is built on my pain to be eased in Your embrace. I desire to have righteous anger alone, to be angry yet sin not. In the end to yield that anger to You that Your peace may flow through me. Thank you that I can rest in knowing that You answer my prayer, that even when it doesn’t feel like it You are at work within me. Transform me God, from the inside out, by Your Power.
In Christ name, Amen.
“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (The Message)
Click Anger Blogroll on right to go to song
Hillsong – From The Inside Out – With Subtitles/Lyrics