Everyone periodically feels the heat of anger, but how we handle anger determines whether or not it becomes out of control. A small flame lighting a cozy campfire can ignite a forest fire … if left unchecked. Conversely, if the campfire for a cookout is snuffed out too quickly, it will not accomplish its purpose, and you will have some hungry campers!
Anger in and of itself is not a sin. The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26 ESV). Therefore, if we are wise, we will learn how to handle our anger … and, in turn, help others handle their anger.
Personally, I know the danger of a flaming candle left unattended.
Years ago, I was stunned to be awakened in the middle of the night—by smoke. The flickering light of a candle on my mantel had been a soothing sight, but later I discovered the candle had burned down unnoticed and ultimately caught the mantel and the wood above it on fire. Thankfully, with enough pots of water thrown on the blaze, the fire was extinguished with only minimal damage and without the room becoming engulfed in flames. While I escaped physical harm, the fire was a lesson learned: Don’t leave any fire unchecked!
A flame that escapes the confines of a candle can quickly become frightening. So it is with misplaced anger that can consume an innocent bystander—causing unnecessary fear within that person.
Many people have difficulty expressing or even recognizing their emotion of anger. While some people express anger, others repress it. However, our emotional responses are not hidden from God, who sees and understands—because He created us.
Many people are unaware they have hidden anger. While this hidden anger is usually rooted in past pain, the underlying effects are often easily ignited. For example, if you have suppressed anger from something unjust and someone later commits a similar injustice, you may find yourself overreacting. If someone insults you today as you were insulted in the past, the magnitude of your anger can be out of proportion to the offense.
So evaluate: When you are angry, does reason rule the day or do tense emotions ruin it? Do you have knee-jerk responses that lead to wrong reactions … or do you allow the mind of Christ to lead you to right actions? If you’ve never evaluated what happens when you feel angry or if you don’t know how others perceive you when you’re angry, seek God’s wisdom and understanding. … “Call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding … For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:3, 6).
Consider our “Quick Answer to Anger.”
You can manage your anger in two basic steps—with one question and one action:
Ask yourself: Can I change this situation?
Action: If you can, change it. If you can’t, release it.
Let’s go back to the beginning: Can you change what angers you?
Now consider the second step:
If you answered yes, you are angry about something you can change—then change it. If the door squeaks, oil it—if the faucet leaks, fix it.
Yet, if you answered no, you are angry about something you cannot change—then release it.
How do you release your anger?
First, list what angers you—every person and every situation. Then, go to God in all humility, refusing to demand your rights, rejecting any thought of revenge, and surrendering the situation and yourself to the Lord. Although you may feel powerless, in reality you have the power to release your pain and anger to Him—start by praying these words:
“Lord, thank You for loving me. Thank You for caring about me. Since You know everything, You know the strong sense of (hurt, injustice, fear, and/or frustration) I have felt about ( name or situation ). Thank You for understanding my anger. Right now, I release all of my anger to You. I trust You with my emotions and with my future. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.”
You can choose to enter into a deeper dependence on the Lord to help you deal wisely with your anger. Allow your anger to move you to appropriate action rather than allowing anger to become a consuming fire, burning out of control.
Yours in the Lord’s hope,
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!