A Secondary Emotion
At the root of anger is unfulfilled hope: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:1-3).
All of us have experienced anger when something we have is threatened or something we want is denied. Sometimes our desire is for something tangible—a parking spot, the last doughnut, or a loved one who’s dying of cancer. Other times we want something we can’t physically touch—relational affirmation, fame, or justice for the oppressed. How we deal with the core emotion underneath is the key.
In our “fight or flight” response, the physical symptoms of anger are an attempt to control a situation we don’t like. Ironically, anger rarely solves the problem at hand, at least in the long term. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). So when we help someone understand her anger, we’ve given them a powerful bit of wisdom.
Anger is not always sinful. We can use our anger to point to an idol of our hearts and point us back to a position of humility and dependence on God. Chip Ingram refers to anger as a “warning light on the dashboard” that reveals a deeper struggle.
Anger can even reflect God’s goodness, especially on behalf of others facing injustice. But we must be careful with how we handle righteous indignation. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
As we help young women at Hannah Grace Homes, please pray for each girl as she deals with the anger expressed out of a place of loss from trauma. We all grieve the abuse and neglect they’ve experienced, and your support means a great deal.
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