When My Mad is Too Big
I pondered them in my mind. ~Nehemiah 5:7a (NIV)
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We all have to deal with anger. One of the first steps in dealing with our anger – God’s way - is admitting that we are angry. That sounds so simple. It isn’t.
Instead of admitting that we are angry, we explain away our fury by using the excuse that we are simply upset. Really! We are just frustrated. My personal favorite is that while I may look and sound angry, what I really am is exhausted and tired. Why is it so hard to admit that we are just plain mad? It is the first step to dealing with anger - the right way.
Admitting our anger does not mean giving that anger free reign. In fact, just the opposite is true. Nehemiah beautifully illustrates how to harness anger by pondering it. “Ponder” literally means “to deliberately examine, to contemplate or to weigh” and is the picture of a revolving door.
Don’t miss this mental picture from Nehemiah.
When anger strikes, we need to gain control of our thoughts, contemplating them, and examining them from every angle and every side before expressing them.
Proverbs 19:11 issues a warning that “people with good sense restrain their anger.” In other words, if we have good sense, we will learn to harness our anger. That means we should control our anger instead of allowing our anger to control us - easy to say, but almost impossible to do. In fact, it is totally impossible to control anger without the power of God at work in our hearts and lives.
One of the most effective ways to harness our anger is to postpone it until we are ready to handle it in a healthy way.
The writer of Proverbs 29:11 is very clear when he writes, “A stupid man gives free rein to his anger; a wise man waits and lets it grow cool.” I am used to hearing teenagers say, “Cool it!” but never realized that cooling it really is a spiritual exercise.
When our daughter was about six years old, she and I engaged in a battle of wills. I wanted her to go to sleep. However, she had other plans for the evening, none of which included sleep. After several heated conversations and a few slammed doors, Danna realized that I was not going to give in. With a huff and a puff, she stomped to her room, furious with her overly demanding mother.
An hour passed.
I went to make peace.
When I knocked on Danna’s door and walked in, Danna was sitting on the bed, arms crossed, teeth clinched, and eyes flashing. Obviously, she was still angry.
“Danna, I think we need to talk about this,” I began. Her response was immediate and sure, “Mama, I can’t talk right now. My mad is too big!” There was great truth in my daughter’s words.
When Jesus saw the moneychangers in His Father’s temple, He was furious! But He stopped, stepped to the side, and began braiding a whip – not because He had taken a course in whip braiding – but because His mad was too big and like Nehemiah, He was cooling it.
Then - with harnessed anger - Jesus Christ drove the moneychangers out of His Father’s house, illustrating the truth that the longer you hold your temper, the more it improves.
How many of us have fallen victims to a vicious circumstance that began with one angry word, thought, or deed? Satan constantly stokes the fire of anger in our hearts, our lives, and our relationships with his lies and half-truths. I suspect he laughs and dances on the grave of every life he has destroyed because of a failure to deal with anger in a healthy and godly way.
Anger is a consuming and malignant emotion if left unchecked. I pray that anger will have no power in our lives as we choose to confront and deal with it – God’s way.
Father, please forgive me when I allow anger to control what I say and do. I want to honor You in the way I manage the anger in my life. Fill my heart with Your peace. Help me cultivate the spiritual discipline of anger management and learn how to control my emotions instead of allowing them to control me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Would people who know you well describe you as an angry person? Memorize the verses below. When you are angry, speak these verses aloud and ask God to fill your heart with His peace.
James 1:19-20 “Everyone should be slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
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Girlfriends in God
We all have to deal with anger.