Jesus was not afraid to feel angry. Or to express it.
I’d rather feel almost anything else. I’ve wondered why.
Sure, I’ve seen the devastation that poorly controlled anger can cause.
Yes, I like to please people rather than rock the boat.
The same culture that taught me that big boys don’t cry made sure I knew that good girls don’t get angry.
But perhaps the biggest, truest reason I’m afraid to feel angry is that anger insists on action. It’s easier to curl up in the corner, out of the battle, than to address the problem. Easier, less scary, less risky—unless risk is measured in terms of missed life and ignored calling.
I pray to hear the heartbeat of God, to let mine beat in rhythm with His. When did I forget that that might mean feeling His anger as well as His peace and His joy?
I’ve known His anger in the past: “It’s so wrong that we’re turning these kids off studying the Bible!” “It’s awful that all those women are dying for lack of access to care!” I’ve suspected that anger is linked to calling, that the place we feel God’s anger most deeply is the place we’re called to partner with Him in addressing the injustice.
“Passion” is a big word with a lot of layers to live.
I watch the One in whose image I am made, the One “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Num 14:18; Ps 86:15, 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) The One who “time after time . . . restrained his anger.” (Ps 78:38) And then I watch as several hundred times this God who is Love expresses His anger.
Anger isn’t the opposite of love. Anger can be an expression of love. The fierce protectiveness of a mother for her baby, the anger of a man when he finds his wife in the arms of another: is the ability to express appropriate anger in defense of life and relationship what sets true love apart from sentimentality?
God isn’t quick to explode. But when relationship is broken or injustice occurring, He isn’t afraid to point out the problem. And then He lets His anger go. “His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime.” (Ps 30:5)
Slow to get angry but unafraid to express it as a means to restoring relationship, quick to let it go and welcome the other back into relationship: that’s how God lives His anger as an expression of His love. It’s how we’re asked to live it too.
“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. (Eph 4:26-27 MSG)
God of perfect love, this scares me. I’d rather a smaller version of love, one which allows me to feel safe and comfortable emotions all the time. But I want to be free to receive and give your love in all the ways you might ask. Open me up to the fullness of your love. Live your love in me.