Every raging fire begins with a small spark. Every outburst of unbridled, explosive, consuming anger can be traced back to something less intense that could have been extinguished, but was allowed to destroy. A small crack in a relationship is allowed to become a breach broader than the Grand Canyon. An issue not dealt with can easily become a deadly division in a church. Anger fueled can lead a bride to eventually see her prince as a ghastly, disgusting, ogre. Jealousy left unchecked can transform friends into mortal enemies.
My own anger has done more damage than I care to remember. Fist fights as a kid. Word wars as an adult. Destruction and loss all along the way. My outbursts of anger have not been aimed so much at those I know little to nothing about. The recipients, or victims, have been those I love and care about. I would never say to a stranger the things I’ve said to my wife, Connie. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the rush of anger’s adrenaline with a co-worker like I have my own children. I am embarrassed and ashamed, and will never forget how my anger has hurt those I love.
In reading Psalm 37:8 I’ve discovered something very helpful, insightful, for me. The phrase, “Do not lose your temper–it only leads to evil,” means so much more than simply striving to be mild-mannered or nonchalant about life. The phrase translates the Hebrew word, “Charah,” which means, “Hot, burn, or furious.”
Anger is an emotion that all people experience. It is not anger in and of itself that is destructive. It is what we become angry about and allowing anger to lead to fury, rage, and ungodliness that leads to evil. I know when something is eating at me. It is at that point that I must seek God’s counsel as to what I should do with the anger I feel. Do I need to sit down and talk with the person I am angry with? Do I need to talk to a close friend for wisdom? Do I need to ask God to show me if there is truth in what they’ve said that made me angry? If I don’t take this course of action then I will most likely allow an aggravation to become fueled into a rage.
My prayer today, Lord, is that you will teach me to take my irritations, aggravations, and anger to You so that You might teach me how to extinguish emotions that can lead to evil and destruction.