Getting the best of your anger

Chuck Tabor - Contributing columnist

Some time ago, I had a discussion with a couple who were in their later years of life. It was the second marriage for both of them and they had been married to each other for a few years.

Just to look at them when they were with each other was an experience of pure joy! They seemed so happy together. They were the poster children for “marital bliss.”

During this discussion, I asked them to what or whom they credited for their seeming harmony. In unison, they both proclaimed that they had NEVER had an argument!

In all the time they had known each other, they had never had even the slightest disagreement. Now I do not know about you, but I have done enough marriage and pre-marriage counseling to know that if two people agree on absolutely everything one of them is unnecessary!

Being human is by definition being sinful and selfish. When I shared this with this couple, they still claimed to have never had a disagreement, but they then admitted to having several “discussions” in which they differed, but they have always been able to work those disagreements out without delay.

Ahhh, the difference between “definition” and “terminology”!

Well, let me ask you this question? Have you ever gotten angry? I mean, hopping mad?

Have you ever felt yourself getting so hot “under the collar” that that emotion wanted to express itself through your fists?

The other day, I experienced that personally in a way that I still do not understand. My bride and I were doing some shopping and we had just left one store, hopped in the car, and were heading to another store in a different shopping center down the street.

I pulled to the end of my row and planned to turn left. Seeing no traffic coming from my left, I began to slowly pull out. But just as I did, in my peripheral vision I saw a car coming rather rapidly towards us from my right. I slammed on the brakes and stopped with plenty of room for the other car to pass through.

The vehicle passed a good 10 feet in front of me. But as it passed, the driver, a middle-aged woman, took both her hands off the wheel and shrugged her shoulders at me with her hands spread wide, as if to say, “What on earth are you trying to do to me?”

Then, with both hands, she made a single-digit gesture towards me, which is commonly used to express anger and frustration. As if that was not enough, as that vehicle passed in front of us, the passenger, whom I could not see raised an arm out the passenger window above the roof line of their car, and offered the same “friendly” gesture towards us.

Now I checked with my bride to see if I had acted wrongly towards these people in any way. Short of pulling out of the parking lane too soon and beginning to turn into their lane, but stopping well before cutting them off, I could not see anything I had done to manifest that sort of behavior on their part.

The point is that we all tend to get angry over the simplest, and, yes, stupidest things! And often we want to get revenge for whatever it was that made us feel that way! I must admit my first reaction was to follow them and then give them a piece of my mind. But cooler minds prevailed and I did not follow them.

The Bible has a lot to say about anger.

From the very beginning, anger has been a problem in people’s lives. Cain got angry with God and took it out on his brother Abel.

When the children of Israel got frustrated with Moses because they had nothing to drink, Moses got angry and defied the command of God and struck the rock, rather than just speak to it as God had told him to do. That defiance resulted in his being prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

Over and over again, the Bible illustrates the devastating results that come when we get angry.

That is one reason why James declares that we should always be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

So what should we do with our anger? How should we resolve it?

David, in Psalm 37, gives us a solution: “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:8-9).

David, who had every reason to live in anger. He had been anointed to be the next king of Israel, but the current king would not relinquish the throne.

In fact, that man, King Saul, did everything he could to search out and destroy David and everything and everyone who was close to him.

But David tells us that if we allow anger to rule in our lives, it will lead only to evildoing.

And the secret to overcoming that anger is to wait for the Lord, who will, in the end, be victorious – and so will all those who wait for Him!

Isaiah echoed those sentiments when he said, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

So the next time you are tempted to get angry, realize the high road, and the victorious one, is to simply wait for the Lord.

If that means counting to ten before doing anything, do it!

By doing so, you do not give the devil an opportunity to do his work in you and through you!

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.

Chuck Tabor

Contributing columnist