Handling anger is an important topic, just as I expressed in today’s Proverbs 31 devotion which was pulled from our new book Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, click here!
Anger is so common place that we often accept is as the norm. Practically every day we see people getting angry – in traffic, in stores, on security camera video clips on the news, in movies, and maybe even in our homes.
I have had two women in the past week share with me that their husband is emotionally abusive due to the anger that he deals with every day, and I know there are countless other women living in hostile environments. I also recently read that Christian counselors report that 50% of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger, and that over 60% of people lose their temper at least once per week.
So what do we do?! How can we not only overcome extreme bitterness in our heart that resulted from being hurt or betrayed, but also learn to avoid losing our temper over all the daily things that agitate us or the people who cross us? How can we learn to control our emotions and trust God in even the hardest situations?
Below are 5 ways to begin looking at anger differently, and handling it in a way that pleases God. Learning to manage our anger, especially when it’s justified, is never easy, but with God’s help, it can be done.
(Bible verses are all from The Message Bible translation.)
1. Before letting anger erupt, remember that God works through trials. Think about how God would have you handle the situation, so that when people see your true colors, they are beautiful and not something to be ashamed of. Consider how He might be maturing you in your faith, and pray for Him to work in you, through the challenge.
James 1:2-4 (MSG) Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way
2. Let God do His job, instead of trying to do it for Him. When we have been hurt or wronged, we want the one who brought us pain, to feel pain themselves. We want to shun them, give them the silent treatment, withhold love or hurt them with words. We want to somehow get back at them for what they have done, after all, they deserve it. But God is a righteous and just God, and we can always trust that He knows what is going on and He will see to it that justice takes place. It’s not our job to seek vengeance, but to trust that God rewards the faithful.
Romans 12:19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
3. Don’t keep it all inside – talk it out. The longer we hold our anger in, the more agitated it can become, so when it erupts, the outcome will always be ugly. Talk to God about your feelings, and don’t hold back. He can take it. Then talk to someone you trust who can support in your desire to let your anger go and help you process your feelings. Through openness, honesty and faith, we can overcome our tendency to hold onto anger and prevent the devil from getting a foothold in our life.
Ephesians 4:26 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.
4. If you can’t change the person or circumstance which has angered you….. change yourself. Anyone can return evil for evil…. but it takes a courageous person in Christ to allow love to flow from our hearts instead of hatred. Even if your mind wants to take revenge, talk to God about softening your heart and helping you build the willpower to offer forgiveness. It might not change the external problem, but it will change your internal ability to handle the situation.
Psalm 107:19-20 Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.
5. Remember that no matter how justified we feel in our anger,; no matter how hopeless a situation seems; and no matter how or agitating, a situation may be – God is always there to help us deal with our anger in the right way.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
So to make it sound easier – let’s break it down into 5 easy steps:
* Remember God has a plan.
* Let Him do His job.
* Talk it out (with Him, and others)
* Change what you can change.
* Remember God is your helper.
If you have struggled with anger, in big ways or small ways, my prayer is that you will tuck these 5 steps into your heart and let them start becoming a habit, as you focus on dealing with each situation in this way.
If you do not struggle with anger, the likelihood is that you know someone who does, and possibly whose family is suffering because of it. Pray about forwarding this week’s posts to them.
Overcoming ungodly anger won’t happen overnight, but if we turn our emotions over to God and rely on His strength, it can happen.
I’ve heard it takes 21 days for a habit to form – today could be the first of that twenty one.