Anger, while considered to be a normal period within the grief cycle, can poison the soul, if not handled correctly. Blind anger can often become anger at God, anger at loved ones, and anger at the world as a whole. Everything offends, and the smallest things cause emotional explosions. Physically, the body struggles to maintain itself, as depression kicks in and physical ailments begin to take over, as the body seeks some outlet for the powerful emotions coursing through it.
There are two types of anger:
1. Righteous – anger that is from God against sin and those who defile His name
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. Nahum 1:2
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26
2. Unrighteous – anger that originates from a human perspective
For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. Proverbs 29:22
“The difference between righteous and unrighteous indignation is illustrated by asking, ‘Whose honor is being preserved?’ If I am angry because God has been dishonored and that vexes me, I am probably experiencing righteous anger. If my anger is in the garden variety, ‘I can’t believe you are doing this to me…,’ it is probably unrighteous anger.” – Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart
When has anger become unrighteous anger?
~ When it lingers and dwells and eventually consumes. Anger that often comes as a reaction, with the grief cycle, passes within a fairly brief period of time, giving way to sadness and acceptance. Anger that becomes a constant presence has exceeded the norm and become an issue that needs to be dealt with.
The godless in heart cherish anger. Job 36:13a
~ When the body is manifesting it. Back aches, headaches, a tender face, all from clenched and taut muscles. Constant illness as the toxins from this anger take over what was once a body able to defend against illness.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Psalm 31:10
There is no health in my bones because of my sin. Psalm 38:3b
~ Flashes of irritation grow into outburst of temper and, eventually, uncontrolled rages. This will manifest in screaming at loved ones, including children, that the individual once never dreamed of screaming at, physical abuse, self abuse, and even thoughts of permanently harming someone.
Then when lust (selfish desire) hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15 (KJV)
~ Very few thoughts do not include feelings of rage and hate. They may be such as, “I hate my life!” “I hate my spouse!” “I hate that person!” There is no dislike, there is intense, literal hate—for all areas of life and most people.
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:11
~ There is no longer any relationship with God because the individual has quite literally turned their back on Him and refuse to have anything to do with Him. This is a dangerous, dangerous place to be.
He who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death. Proverbs 8:36
There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die. Proverbs 15:10
What anger seems to do:
~ In some ways it protects the heart. It naturally builds a thick wall to keep others away. Victims of abuse often adopt anger to protect the fragility of a heart that has been traumatized and devastated. In the same way, those with grief will often embrace anger, for the red hot power it brings is more bearable than the raw grief that tears and shreds with each moment that passes.
~ Anger can propel us to take appropriate measures for certain situations. This is a righteous anger, such as in the case of a child being harmed and rising up to protect to them, but it is often a difficult thing to achieve for sinful human beings—a true, righteous anger.
What anger does not do:
~ Protect forever. Either it must be let go and the grief dealt with, or it is assumed as a regular part of life and destroys in the process.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. Matthew 15:18
~ Allow love. Once anger has been allowed to fully blossom, love can no longer dwell. You cannot both hate and love. Unresolved, unchecked anger will eventually consume all of life, even those areas you once swore you would never allow it to touch (like your best friend, spouse, and children)
How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:10-12
~ Encourage Friendships
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Proverbs 22:24-25
~ Make the situation ok again. Anger does not heal nor does it restore. It simply takes more than has already been lost.
~Promote the wisdom of God
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
~Allow you to stay in control
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
Steps to resolve anger:
~ Admit you are angry. So simple, so difficult. But coming out of denial into the harsh reality that you have become an angry person is the first step in finding release from this way of life.
~ Seek professional help as needed. This may include a medical Doctor of help managing a clinical depression and/or a minister or pastor or professional counseling to walk you through the root causing the anger.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
~ Release and surrender. As the issues manifest, the roots of this ugly rage, they must be released and thy must be released with full surrender. When tempted to hang on to them, feeling as if you have a right to do so, remind yourself that clinging to them has done nothing short of destroy your life and you are now at a place where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain to let them go.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Psalm 37:8
~ Check your priorities and your perspective.
“Don’t let your anger look bigger than the situation warrants. You can’t cease to be angry about things simply by trying hard not to be. You need to change your mind about how important some things really are. You need to get your priorities in order, and then, when something is withheld or damaged, or you are criticized or slighted, anger will not be your first response.”
~ Realize and accept that God is God and you are not. His ways are not our ways. This can either be the catalyst for the destructive rage or it can be our freedom.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:7-9
~ Pray – look up instead of looking around
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8
~ Be thankful – give praise to God for His goodness
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2012. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp21p01-10-2013