This is the ninth post in the March series To Love is to Live in Christ and is based on 1 Corinthians 13 : 5 “it is not easily angered”. It is linked up to Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Lyli Dunbar’s Thought Provoking Thursday:
James 4: 1 – 12 (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrelsamong you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges themspeaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Anger. Not in itself a sin. In fact a perfectly normal human response to injustices, hurt experienced and guilt not yet confessed: a broken world, still in the process of being restored to full communion with God. But, definitely a sin when we choose to hold onto it, let it fester and cause us to injure ourselves and others: when we choose to hide it from God in distrust.
I am a recovering anger-holic. Before my Mum passed away (when she could still speak), she looked me in the face and point-blank asked me: “Anna, why are you so angry?” My attempts at stifling it were obviously no longer succeeding.
- grief (hearing Mum had three months to live),
- unprocessed trauma (watching my brother suffer and being unable to protect him),
- unspoken hurt (avoiding speaking the truth for fear of rejection),
- exhaustion (years of perfectionism for fear of being proven a failure)
- idol of seeking the love and approval of others
- and many unconfessed sins (accumulated in more than twenty years of fleeing God)
seethed under the surface. Busied away, buried, repressed, chased and run away from. And yet, as the cracks began to appear, God drew near. His kind, gentle love pursued me, in the deepest of suffering, precisely when the numbing and running could no longer hide that beneath: my desperate need for a Saviour.
But more than twenty years have taken their toll. The accumulated grief, trauma, hurt, exhaustion, idolizing and impact of unconfessed sins have not disappeared overnight. Instead God has been taking me on a slow, sometimes painstaking journey of transformative healing. I still struggle with anger, but it is decreasing, as God is teaching me to “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change [my] laughter to mourning and [my] joy to gloom” and to “Humble [myself] before the Lord” (James 4: 9 – 10, NIV), by letting Him into that which he unearths, by confessing that which I am holding onto, so that He may unbind me from it. For when we “Come near to God … he will come near to [us]” (James 4: 8).
And so, I’m learning:
- to mourn, so that He might comfort me,
- to confess the fear and piercing hurt I feel, when I cannot control the outcome or situation of things, to let Him into the as yet incompletely processed feelings of that little girl who watched her brother suffer and was held at bay and let Him both comfort and speak His Truth into me to tether me to His Love,
- to confess the anger, rejection, grief, loneliness and deep hurt buried in the little girl and young woman, who refused to speak the truth to those around her and instead bottle all her feelings deep inside and let my Heavenly Father comfort her and speak new Truths of Love, Redemption and Hope into her,
- to speak the truth, in loving kindness, to those around me, who have hurt me,
- to love the Lord my God by protecting and nurturing the mind, body and soul He has given me, by receiving as gifts: regular exercise, a balanced diet and periods of fasting, sufficient sleep (not refusing the gift of naps after sleep-deprived nights), the love, life, light and truth of His Word, the community of His Body and the love of the family He has gifted me,
- to receive His gift of righteousness and my inheritance as daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, with no need to seek my worth in earthly love and approval,
- to confess each and every sin He convicts me of, secure in the knowledge that: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed [these] transgressions from [me].” (Psalm 103: 12),
- and in doing so to ultimately: “Submit [myself], then, to God.” and to “Resist the devil, [so that] he will flee from [me].”
And through this continuing journey, I am ever so slowly learning to receive His actions of Love that are “not easily angered”. Patience and gentleness are growing the more He is teaching me to come before Him as myself: His broken, sinful and grieving child, who is in desperate need of His cloak of faith, hope, love, grace and righteousness: His beautiful gifts of Life.
I pray that if you too are a recovering anger-holic or are still in its deep throes that you will also be encouraged and emboldened to lean into Your Heavenly Father’s arms as yourself. For, He is longing to unburden you also, to free more and more of your heart from the clutches of seething and quickening anger. For He loves you, so much more than you can ever fathom and He knows you, even better than you can ever know yourself! Praise be to Our Beautiful Saviour, who was and is and is to come!!!