It seems to me, and maybe you’ve noticed it too, that there have been more displays of rage in our culture lately. For example, there are several reports of politicians being harassed and shouted at while they were trying to have a quiet dinner at a restaurant with their spouse. Maybe that behavior has something to do with the public advice given by a member of U.S. Congress from California this last June: “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
There have also been speakers at state college campuses who have not been able to finish their talk due to the shouting and screaming–just because they held an unpopular opinion.
As hard as it is to believe, these outbursts of anger are actually seen as a good thing by some. Notice this excerpt from an October 29th article in the New York Post: “On Sept. 21, The Washington Post affirmed that ‘rage is healthy, rational, and necessary for America.’ On Friday, NBC News praised a TV show for depicting ‘anger as righteous and necessary.’ Before that, it ran a segment encouraging certain political partisans to ‘embrace their rage.’” Instead of sharing our ideas, we now tend to just ridicule and parade our outrage at each other. There is even a bumper sticker that says, “If you Aren’t Outraged, You Aren’t Paying Attention.”
Social media has done much to feed into this anger frenzy. We can now write irate, hurtful, and even hateful messages from a safe distance in obscurity. It seems like everyone is angry about something. I think you will agree that social media comments can be brutal.
Why do we have so much anger? I think I can point to at least two reasons.
First of all, anger feels good. No, really, it does. Anger releases adrenaline and/or cortisol, which gives us a surge of energy that makes us feel powerful and in control. Let’s face it, during those times we are angry, we always feel that we have a very good reason to be angry. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.”
We may regret our anger later, but while the adrenalin is running, we feel very righteous at the time. That is why it is so easy to get addicted to anger. It gives us a rush that makes us feel powerfully superior. Anger not only overrides our sense of right and wrong, but it can also blunt the common sense we otherwise would have. “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
Secondly, anger also raises its ugly head when we feel trapped in our circumstances. All of us have been in situations like this:
- Someone we trusted has betrayed us.
- We are in a bad state of affairs with no solution in sight.
- An important relationship is broken that appears hopeless.
- We struggle with the same bad habits over and over again, regardless of how hard we try to overcome them.
- We see oppression or mismanagement and have no power to fix the problem.
The selfish anger that flows out of us will never make things better, though. One popular solution is to take out our frustrations on a punching bag. That may make us tired, but because we have unending reservoirs of anger in our hearts, it doesn’t solve anything. The Bible makes this clear: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
What is the answer to this serious problem?
The solution to our anger begins with humility, the humility it takes to believe that God, and not us, is the One in control. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). The truth is that our anger hurts those around us. It will not make anything better, although we often think that it will. The Bible says that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
It takes humility to admit that we are helpless sinners who are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and favor, but the good news is that God embraces every sinner who comes to Him. God not only forgives through Christ, but He also supplies His own with peacefulness. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
When we put our faith in Christ, He becomes our protector who takes care of us. He is our friend who always loves us. To put it another way, real faith in Christ is willing to trust that He can and will take care of us, no matter how life looks at the moment. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
We don’t have to be angry. Think about this wonderful promise from Jesus Himself: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).