Anger… It is an acceptable, understandable and even necessary emotion…and…before I go any further…I am sure that I cannot fully appreciate the full extent of pain, frustration and all around despair that is associated with all the righteous anger expressed around our world today. However, even with all of this in mind, I still have not found anger to be very useful in my own life. I spent a majority of my late teens and 20’s working in healthcare. During that time I saw an 18 year old girl slowly slip away from coma to death. I held the hands of people who were once doctors and business people, mothers and sons. They were now being cared for like tiny children, their memories and their dignity ripped away by Alzheimer’s disease. I saw people who spent their entire lives caring for sick loved ones only to find themselves spending their final days dying from cancer. I watched and served people who lost basic functions and body parts that we take for granted like the ability to swallow, blink and even the gift of having a nose. I sat with elderly people, completely alone in this world; some of them with family who never visit and some of them with no family and friends at all. Since that time in my life, I have lost close friends, served with good people who have lost everything, shared moments with people who have never had anything and cried with people who have lost all hope. Even with all the times I have cried angry tears at what I perceived to be senseless despair, loss, and sometimes even injustice. I realize that I there’s still so much more I just don’t understand. So much suffering. So much injustice…It is with that amount of sensitivity that I write this post…
Furthermore…I dedicate this post to some of my hero’s…Men and Women, Iike Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr, John Perkins, Mother Theresa, Gandhi and even Jesus Himself. These were people who focused their anger into passion and their passion into action. Action that changed lives and gave hope to millions of people for generations to come. They are my inspiration and motivation to write.
I know that there is a loving God who watches over us. And our God gives us hope as we live in this fallen world. But I can’t help but feel that those words alone couldn’t offer much comfort to a man I saw lying in a hospital bed, living out his last days in agony as he suffered from terminal tongue cancer. All of this should have been enough to teach me about how fragile life is. Yet the journey goes on…
In college when I watched an internal video of an abortion and shots of a dumpster at an abortion clinic.
…when I watched photos of thousands of bodies, dads, moms and their babies piled up in Nazi camps.
…when I learned that Nazis calculated that Hydrogen Cyanide to execute Hitler’s final solution of killing all the Jews in Europe because it was cleaner and more efficient than shooting or gassing them with car exhaust. Just the thought of tying the concepts of murder and efficiency together literally makes me shake.
…when I learned about whole nations in North America who were driven into convenient pockets of land simply because of fear and greed and because they were “in the way.”
…when I learned about entire nations of people ripped from their homes stripped of their dignity and of having their own dreams and destinies; just to pick sugar cane and cotton and to fulfill the greed and ambition of other nations.
…when I saw children with little money in our cities who have little hope for any meaningful access to education, job skills or any other resources for that matter.
…when I watched 2 planes full of hundreds of passengers and airplane fuel smash into the Twin Towers.
…when I saw, first hand, the loss and despair left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
On a more personal note…
…when I heard stories from my mom about how she used to be called the KIKE’S wife
…When my parents called me in and said those words, “Your mom and I love each other but we just can’t live together any more.”
…When my best friend died from a freak accident all because of his stupid addiction to drugs.
…When I found out that his sister was raped.
…When I saw the subtle but real pain and frustration in my friends eyes when one man just couldn’t believe that my friends church and my church do life together because my friend and “his church” are “black” from the “south side” and I and “my church” are “white” from the “north side."
…When I realized that most of the weddings that I have attended have ended up in divorce.
And most recently…when I picked a battered family member up from the airport after her husband beat her severely.
I am sure that there have been other things that have made me angry over the years. And I am positive that my list of frustration and anger is quite short compared to the list’s most people. Nevertheless, it has been a small but real part of my view as I journey through life. I must admit, it feels somewhat freeing to write it out.
However, when I really sat down and pondered the anger in my life after all, and I thought about the victims of pain and injustice who I have known personally. My anger does me no good at all. Sure, it might move me to action…But therein lies some critical questions. What action? What do we do with our righteous anger?
I can’t help but notice that sometimes in our passion to "crush the gates of hell." Christians lose sight of Christ’s central mission…to seek and save that which is lost. I believe that anger is too easily thrown out of out of control. Too easily we can turn our deep passions and convictions into hostility. Some of us actually make excuses for our hostility saying we have the right to have such strong feelings. In the hands of an Almighty, All Perfect, All Holy and All Loving God, who patiently reaches out to us, anger is justified. Even He is "slow to anger."
In the hands of a fallen and sinful man or woman, anger is simply too dangerous.
I am not trying to rob human kind of our God given right to be angry. I would even admit that there are times when anger moves us to action. However, let’s face it; there are many of us who say that we are passionate people, when in truth we are just angry people who look for outlets to vent our anger. We cry out, we want justice. We even mistake our anger for passion and say that we just want to make a difference.
But consider this, all of us who follow Christ and seek the righteousness and justice of God. Consider how easy it is to be angry. Everyone seems to be angry about something these days. But, few people strive for a passion like the passion of our God. Only God really has the right to be angry. But his righteous anger was quenched by his unstoppable passion to die for all people.
Since the injustice in this world has many ways of showing itself and no one is immune to injustice and everyone is guilty of injustice then my plea for human kind is to beware of anger. Only God really knows how to control it. Instead, for the sake of those who have suffered and continue to suffer so much in this world, I urge all of us to set our hearts on the Passion of Christ. His passion embodied boundless energy; powerfully focused into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. With this in mind, my hope is that we would never confuse anger with this kind of passion. They are not the same thing. After all is said and done. It was not God’s anger but His passion through his Son that brought about our only real hope for any justice in this world.
With all of this in mind I end with 3 questions that I am asking my self and the world.
1. Do I really want justice or do I want revenge?
2. Do I really want reconciliation, or do I just need to be right?
3. Do I really want righteousness, or do I just want to think I am better than anyone else?
Perhaps if I could always honestly answer that I really wanted the first parts of the questions above, then maybe, I could handle "righteous anger" better. The truth is I can’t and I don’t believe that anyone else here on earth can either.