Tag Archives: Anger

Anger Danger

When people talk about our Presidential campaign process it is usually with a mixture of dismay and disgust. How did we get here?  The word most frequently used to explain the chaotic turn of events is “anger.”  Voters have become so angry with what has and has not been happening in our government that they latch on to candidates who seem to share their sense of anger.  It is happening on both the left and right sides of the aisle.

But watch out!  Anger is understandable, but rarely a reliable starting place for developing effective solutions.  They say, if you want to win a fist fight, make your opponent angry.  In his anger he will make mistakes.  If we vote for those who simply sound angry, we will likely have to live with their mistakes.

Anger is frequently caused by feeling misunderstood.  Trouble is, anger also leads us to stop listening to one another, to less understanding and then to more anger.  That is why so often in our, so-called, debates, more than one candidate shouts at the same time, neither one listening to the other.  Without listening and genuinely seeking to find common areas of understanding, it is impossible to work together toward solutions.

Consider this:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  –  (James 1:19–20 (NIV84))

Instead of voting for someone who merely sounds angry, what about voting for someone who thoughtfully listens and then seeks a real solution to what has made you angry?

The Trouble with Democrats… and Republicans

Next time you are arguing about politics (or anything else…) pay attention to what is going on in your mind when the other guy is speaking.  Most people spend that time putting together their next argument and mentally rehearsing it, while only halfheartedly listening to what is being said to them.  They may hear a word here and there, enough to get the gist of what they assume the other person is saying.  And when they get a chance to reply, the same thing happens in reverse.  Which is why arguments are rarely constructive.  Nobody is listening.

James, the brother of Jesus wrote this good advice:


My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,…” –  (James 1:19 (NIV84))

Real listening is more than registering noises in one’s ears.  Listening means attempting to truly understand the emotions and meanings being conveyed.  Real listening has not happened until you can restate what you heard, in your own words, to the other person’s satisfaction.  That last part is the key.  The idea is for them to look startled and relieved, with the realization that you really understood it, your really got it.  If you work for that to happen, before you state your positionthen you will have a better chance of being understood, too.  But as long as two people simply lob angry slogans at one another, without listening, not much is accomplished.

It seems to me that much of the hostility and divisiveness we experience in our culture could be reduced or even eliminated by the simple act of listening.  Real listening.  Give it a try and see if James wasn’t right.  Be quick to listen and slow to speak.  And slow to get angry, too…

“…for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  –  (James 1:20 (NIV84)

On the Other Hand, God Really Is Angry

Worker termite

Worker termite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the termite guy, there is only one colony of those nasty things that exists in my town, but it was centered right under my house. When he heard my address, he started making pessimistic noises. I hate that, when some repair guy takes his hat off, rubs his forehead and says, “Oh man…. Oh man…”

I looked under the porch of my house one day, shone a light in under there, and discovered that termites were tearing my house down and eating it! I asked them nicely to knock it off, but they ignored me. I sprayed them with water, and then cans of nasty aerosol stuff I had sitting around. It made sitting on the porch pretty unpleasant, but it didn’t faze those termites a bit. They didn’t even notice. They just kept on working in an organized way, with whole work teams (tiny little hard hats and lunch boxes…), harvesting my home!

Once I knew they were down there, it seemed like, no matter what I was doing, I could hear them, chomping and chewing, destroying the place. That house wasn’t the nicest one in the neighborhood, but I was pretty attached to it and all. It didn’t take long before I’d had enough. It may have seemed unreasonable to the termites, but eventually they experienced my wrath. I called in the termite guy and he knew what to do. He had a special suit, some big drills and special squirtem stuff. He wasn’t fooling around.

God’s anger is partly about trying to keep us safe (See: Why Does God Seem so Angry?). But there is another side to God’s wrath, the part where He zips up His hazmat suit, adjusts His goggles and becomes the “Termite Guy.” When God cannot get us to stop wrecking His garden, destroying His home, so to speak, eventually He puts a stop to it. He has been doing this in measured ways since the beginning – always with warnings, so folks have a chance to turn around. But eventually, He will clean house for good. You have to understand that final day is coming; it may seem unreasonable, but it’s not pretend. Jesus warned His disciples that God’s wrath would be terrifying (See: Matthew 24). But He offered a way out, for anyone who would believe in Him.

God made up a story to try to explain His wrath and the “why” of it. It’s found in the 5th chapter of Isaiah. Read the whole thing if you can. I’ll spend more than one post on it. But start with this: Listen to God as He pours out His heart…

The Song of the Vineyard

I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are the garden of his delight.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Isaiah 5:1-7 (NIV)

Why Does God Seem So Angry?

For some reason, it seemed like a good idea at the time: get a few of my toys together and spread them out to play with them – – – in the middle of an intersection near my home. Who knows why? For that matter, who knows why toddlers do most of the strange stuff they do? As you can imagine, my mother was pretty upset when she discovered me, happily sitting and playing out there. Probably heard the squeal of brakes before she saw what was going on. Can you understand why she might have hollered and screamed at me, might have sounded pretty angry? But at the time, it was a mystery to me. Why would a good mother get so furious?

When you first start reading Isaiah, God seems pretty cranky. He sounds pretty worked up:

Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:4)

Whoa… This sounds like fodder for the angry, pinch-faced, bony-fingered, fire and brimstone preacher, thundering and screaming with flecks of spittle flying off his beard. Why would a good God get so furious? People make the mistake of thinking that God has changed. The God of the New Testament is pretty nice, but back in the old days, He needed some anger management counseling. Not true. God is not bipolar. God was angry for the same reason my mother was. Continue reading:

Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. (Isaiah 1:5-6)

God hates it when He sees us doing things that endanger or hurt ourselves. Think about it: He originally created a perfect garden for us humans to live in. That is His desire for us. Unfortunately, gardens degenerate pretty quickly if you don’t what you are doing, if you don’t follow the rules. I’ve had some gardening experiences that would have frightened Maurice Sendak.

We humans turned away from God and tried to run His garden by our own ideas. We wrecked the garden and wound up hurting ourselves. But God yearns for His people (that’s us…) to turn back to Him and do things the way they work best. He hates it when we keep getting hurt. God’s plan is to ultimately restore the garden, making it available to everyone who will learn from Him and live in it peacefully and productively – and safely.

If you keep that understanding fully in mind, Isaiah is a fascinating and wonderful read. God loves to see us playing – just not in the middle of the street.