Anger was not an acceptable emotion in my childhood home. Needless to say, explosions sometimes occurred anyway, perhaps more violently because they were forbidden. It wasnâ€™t until much later in life that I realized that a rising temper can be, like the temperature gauge on my car, a valuable indicator that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.
A wise friend told me that, in simple terms, we usually feel angry for one of two reasons: failed expectations, or a real or perceived threat to self or loved ones. If I stop to take my emotional temperature and look for a cause, I can often diagnose the problem without losing my temper. Just understanding why Iâ€™m angry helps me deal with the situation. The anger has served its purpose.
In the last chapter of the book of Jonah, the prophet gets angry twice: first because his expectation that God would destroy the city of Nineveh was not met, and second because a shade tree that soothed him withered and died, leaving him without protection from the sun. In both cases God asked, â€œHave you reason to be angry?â€ God set Jonah up to see the selfish motives behind his own feelings. I have a suspicion that God has set me up once or twice, too.
Anger is a reasonable emotion, especially if it helps me see reason. May I have the wit to notice!
God of all good gifts,
help me to use even my unpredictable emotions
to Your honor and glory and for the benefit of others.