When You Are As Mad as... Turn to Heaven
Think about the last time that you got really, really angry. Someone cut you off in traffic or cut in front of you in the checkout line. Maybe someone at work took credit for something that was really your idea. Or maybe you were watching either CNN or FOX News and that blowhard news person that you really can’t stand (take your pick) said something that was really, really dumb. You maybe it was your spouse or parent of child who said or did something that was extremely insensitive or hurtful. I don’t know what it was that real got you torqued, but chances are that you don’t have to look too far back in time to find a time when that happened.
Now, that did you do? How did you handle your anger? Most of us aren’t like Mr. Spock who finds emotions illogical. No, when we get mad, we become illogical. We often say or do things that we normally wouldn't. It is no accident that the term we usually use for being insanely angry is the same term that was meant to just be insane—mad.
So what is the best thing to do when you go insane with anger? Paul tells us as Christians that while we will become angry, we are not to sin in our anger… and we are not to hold onto our anger (see Eph 4:26). OK, that is good (and inspired) advice. So HOW do we do that. Frankly, some of us are wired to explode into anger more readily than are others. I remember the funeral of my Uncle Randolph where his kids, closest friends and co-workers all said, “I never saw him lose his temper or even get particularly angry.” I hope my kids and friends will say some nice things at my funeral, but THAT won’t be one of them. Most of us are going to get angry… so what are we supposed to do?
According to a research team which included Ohio State University communications and psychology professor Brad Bushman, one of the very best things you can do when you are very angry is to pray. The researchers found “that people who pray when they are angry feel less angry, behave less aggressively and are less likely to think that others are out to get them.” The group performed three different series of tests (using college student s as their guinea pigs) and all three studies indicated that prayer “has the power to quell anger.” Of course, the researchers did not attribute the power of prayer to God answering prayers; they found that the process of prayer itself helped people reinterpret what made them angry in the first place. Hey, God works through prayer in many ways; the point it, He works.
Next time someone or something really ticks you off—pray. Pray for God to soften your heart and fill it with the grace He gives. Pray for the person that has made you angry. After all, Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44) and “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). Pray for those suffering from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East (that may help to put your anger in perspective). We need to pray continually (1 Thess 5:17), but maybe especially when we are angry.