Tag Archives: anger

A Brave Face

Job 1-7

Job asks, “Don’t I have a right to complain?” (6:5)

One of my favorite movies and in my opinion one of funniest, is The Great Race starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. There is a scene that cracks me up every time. Several people are stranded on an iceberg in the middle of the ocean. Curtis’ character notices the iceberg is slowly melting. Lemmon’s character sees him measuring the iceberg and asks what’s going on.

Curtis whispers to Lemmon that the iceberg is melting. “But don’t tell anyone,” he says. “We wouldn’t want to worry them.” Then Lemmon (and you have to see his delivery of this line) says, “Ok. But when the water is up to my chin, I’m going to mention it to someone!”

Sometimes we think Christians should suffer in silence. We wouldn’t want anyone to think Christians are anything less than blessed and happy all the time, would we? But is that realistic? And does our brave face give a wrong impression to people who are watching us go through hard times?

Job asks another question. “Is not all human life a struggle?” (7:1a) Of course it is. Sin in our world has caused life to be a struggle for all of humanity. So why do we pretend we don’t struggle?

It’s not wrong to cry when you receive a cancer diagnosis, or lose a loved one. It’s not unchristian to admit you are going through a hard time. I don’t believe it’s wrong according to Scripture to be angry in the difficult position we often find ourselves.

But here is what I think God would have us see in Job:

In all this Job did not sin by blaming God. (1:22)

Oh, he questioned. He complained. He expressed anger and frustration. And he admitted he was depressed and wanted to die. But he didn’t shake his fist at God and walk away from his faith.

Job continued to trust God even when he didn’t understand his circumstances.

Are you in trouble right now? Go ahead and throw something. Pound your pillow. Cry out to God. But don’t deny the fact you are facing trouble. There are people who would count it a privilege to pray with and for you.

There are some things you aren’t intended to handle alone. There are some times when admitting you CAN’T do this, is the most freeing words you can say, when you turn the situation over to God.

And God, who does all things well, is able to carry your load. He’s not fooled by your brave face.

Gentle Answers (Proverbs 13-15)

The proverbs about our speech speaks to me today. Oh, that we in 2020 would learn these truths and apply them to our lives.

We tend to want to have the last word. We don’t listen to each other because we are insisting our own voices be heard. Hate is the language of so many, and enemies are those who simply disagree with us. Opinion is touted as fact, and the majority of us are too quick to believe what we hear without discernment.

I wish that all of us understood that:

A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)


September 19; Somebody Said…

Nehemiah 5-7; Psalms 1, 107

How do you act when you hear gossip? Do you automatically assume that what you’re hearing is the truth? What is your reaction if the gossip is about you? Can you feel your blood boil?

I think most of us could do with a lesson from Nehemiah. Look how many times his enemies tried to get him to react, tried to intimidate him with cunning words and gossip. Then look at how Nehemiah reacts.

I’m pretty sure reality TV and FaceBook would crumble if we did what Nehemiah did. And I’m even more sure we’d all be happier if we learned to keep our heads whenever we hear, “Somebody said…”

April 21; Thank God For Abigails

I Samuel 25; Psalm 18

Do you have an Abigail in your life? Someone who can calm you down when you are angry? Someone who speaks sense when you are off on a tangent? David would have killed Nabal were it not for Abigail. She made him see that his attitude was wrong, and David listened.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need someone who can help me take a second look at what I’m doing or thinking, because I have been known to make a big deal out of something that really wasn’t even an issue. I perceive a wrong. I get angry and don’t let up. It builds and builds in my mind until I have to do or say something to even the score, or to set someone straight. That usually ends up badly.

And it would have ended badly for David had he acted on his emotions.

Sometimes we do need to speak up when bad things happen But what I see in this account is that allowing our emotions to dictate our actions is probably not the best way to handle things. Let’s speak truth to each other. Let’s listen when truth is spoken to us.

Abigail is telling us to take a step back. To seek counsel. And to wait on the Lord. When God prompted Abigail to speak up, and when David listened to what God said through her, God’s will was able to be done. Nabal died without David having to carry the guilt of spilling his blood in a moment of rage.

I thank God for the people in my life who are “Abigail” to me, who are able to talk me off the cliff, to help me calm down, or refocus my thinking. And I pray that God will give me the opportunity to be an “Abigail” to someone else when it’s needed.

Thank God for Abigails.

June 17 – Acting And Reacting

Proverbs 25-26

I think I’ve shared with you that I relate to the young disciple Peter. Peter lived half his life with his foot firmly planted in his mouth. Peter acted and reacted often without putting much thought into the situation. And I’ve been known to do the same.

Solomon tells us, “Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor humiliates you?” (25:8)

Yep. Been humiliated a few times myself.

I watched the NBA finals game last night. A star player from Golden State got ejected after committing his sixth foul, then proceeded to throw a bit of a temper tantrum. There is a reported history of bad blood between that player and the star of the opposing team, the Cleveland Cavs.

So after the game, a reporter interviewed the Cavs’ star, and asked him to comment on the behavior of the ejected Warrior. Emotions run high, and maybe in his younger days the Cavs’ player might have taken the bait and unloaded on his opponent. Instead, he chose to praise the talent of that opponent, and talk about how great a team Golden State is.

He did not go hastily to argue his case.

Seeing that last night, and then reading this proverb today has me examining myself. There are definitely times to stand up for ourselves and for causes important to us. But I want to do so carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully.

Otherwise I’ll end up looking like a fool.

Change Me

I was reading what David said his enemies were saying about him and wondered if he wasn’t exaggerating just a little. (Psalm 109) I know he had enemies but were they really saying things like: I hope his creditors siege his entire estate, I hope no one will be kind to him, I hope all his kids die, I hope his mother’s sins are never erased from the record.

Maybe.  Or are we witnessing a self-absorbed pity party? I know I’ve said things, stretched the truth to make it appear my troubles are a bit worse than they really are in order to gain support from someone. Is that what David’s doing? I don’t know. But I like what he says in verse 21:

Deal with me, Lord, for the sake of your reputation.

When I am telling my woes to someone, even God, I often do so hoping to get them on my side, to avenge the wrong done to me. I want them to be as mad at my enemy as I am. But David says, what is it about ME that needs changed? Because, God, I represent you and if people are saying these awful things about me I don’t want it to reflect on you. I don’t want to be a snare that stops someone from finding you.

So deal with me, Lord. Change me. Show me how to love my enemies so they’ll learn to love you.


If anyone had a right to be angry at Jacob it was Esau. After all, Jacob had stolen Esau’s position as the first-born son. Jacob received the blessing from Isaac that should have been Esau’s. Now after twenty years, here come Jacob once again.

But we read one of the sweetest reunions recorded in the Bible in Genesis 33. These two brothers embrace, then part on the best of terms. Why? Because Esau had forgiven Jacob. Esau hadn’t lived all those years harboring hatred or anger or resentment. He refused to carry a grudge and the result was the ability to welcome his brother home.

If you think Jacob didn’t deserve it, you are right. If you think Jacob should have had to face the consequences for his actions, you are right again. But that’s not what happened.

And it’s not what happened with me, either. I’ve sinned against God. I’ve done disgusting, vile things that hurt and angered him. I deserve God’s wrath. I deserve to face the consequences for my sin. But that’s not what happened.

I went to God and, instead of receiving punishment I was offered grace. Instead of condemnation, I was forgiven. I don’t stand before my Holy God vile and filthy as my actions warrant. I stand before him wearing the righteousness and holiness of his Son, Jesus. 

I trust you can say the same.

God is reminding me that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. People do stupid things, mean things, commit thoughtless actions that hurt and anger us. Sometimes people commit disgusting, vile acts toward one another. They lie. The treat us unfairly. (I know I’m guilty, too). And I have to remind myself that God has forgiven me a boatload of sin. He’s asking me to forgive those who have sinned against me, too.

I was thinking about Esau’s family this morning as I was reflecting on this Scripture. If Esau had  allowed anger and jealousy to build up over the years, we might be reading about a war here today. Instead of greeting Jacob with a hug, he might have greeted him with 400 warriors armed for battle. There would have been blood-shed. There would have been destruction. Maybe Esau’s family would have been a casualty. But because Esau was able to forgive, his family enjoyed peace as well.

If you are harboring hatred, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and have refused forgiveness to one who has wronged you, I pray that you will rethink that. Turn it over to the Lord. Ask him to help you forgive and he will. Remember that an unforgiving spirit is a cancer that is eating at you and destroying you. Let it go. And think about your family, those precious people you hold dear. They are affected by your bitterness, too. Don’t they deserve better?

Holy God, I thank you for forgiveness. I know that I have been forgiven a multitude of sin. And I’m asking that you’ll help me to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. May I lay all the bitterness and anger at your feet and walk away from it. May I know the joy and peace that comes from forgiving those I feel have wronged me. And may my loved ones recognize a forgiving spirit in me and realize it comes from you, my Savior and Lord.

May 31

Proverbs 14 & 15

Of my 37 years in public education, 25 of them were spent working with middle school children. There is something about that age group I just love. I had a principal who used to say you could tell the difference between a sixth and an eighth grader by the way they go through the halls. Sixth graders want to run everywhere. By the time they get to be eighth graders not only does their pace slow in the hall, it can be a challenge to keep them awake during a fifty minute class.

I loved being a part of the transition from child to the early teens. Their thinking changes. Their goals change. And attitude? Nuf said.

But as much as I enjoyed middle school kids I can honestly say I never won an argument with one. Proverbs 15:1 reminded me of that this morning. If a child was angry and I spoke to him or her in my anger, neither one of us was heard. And neither one of us was able to get to the bottom of the problem

But over the years I learned that if I stayed calm, we had a better chance of working things out. If I allowed myself to be sucked in to their anger, if I stooped to their level of frustration, it wasn’t pretty.

Have you found that to be true in your own relationships? Have you ever said something in anger you later regretted? Anger is not a sin. But how we express it can be.

What does Proverbs 15:1 say? “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If you have a screaming match with your child do you think that will calm things down? Do you think they hear you better if you talk louder? If you are sarcastic or demeaning to your child, do you think that’s going to make them want to be better, to please you? Think again.

A gentle answer must be the key or it wouldn’t be written here in Proverbs. My prayer is that we will all learn to be angry and not sin, to keep our mouths closed while we are angry, knowing a harsh word stirs up anger.

Father, I pray for all of us that we will choose to control our tongues no matter how angry we get. Whether we are at the work place, in our home, or sitting on the stands watching our children play baseball. Bring to mind Proverbs 15:1 and help us to remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath. May we be wise, dear Lord, even in our anger.

January 26

Genesis 33-35

Jacob thought Esau would want to kill him. The closer he got to home, the more frightful Jacob must have felt. As the firstborn son Esau should have received their father’s blessing. Esau had a birthright. But Jacob had stolen what should have been Esau’s.

Now he was coming home. We don’t know what happened to Esau during the years Jacob was away. But one thing is certain. Esau didn’t allow anger and jealousy to destroy him.

Somewhere along the line Esau had forgiven Jacob without Jacob even knowing. Did Jacob deserve Esau’s forgiveness? Jacob never apologized or tried to make it up to Esau. So, no. I guess Jacob didn’t deserve forgiveness.

But Esau deserved to forgive.

Someone once said forgiveness is a gift to yourself. And I believe that. I used to tell my students I was too lazy to carry a grudge. It takes a lot of effort. And instead of feeding the hurt I’d rather let it die of starvation. I’ve found the more I think about the wrong someone has done to me, the more I entertain hard feelings, the bigger the grudge becomes and the heavier the burden of carrying it.

Anger and hate are like cancer. They eat at you until they destroy you. And whether or not the person at whom your anger is directed deserves your forgiveness, you deserve the freedom that comes from forgiving them.

And remember… while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Father, it’s not easy to forgive when we know we have been wronged. And sometimes we need to walk away from the person who has mistreated us. Help us to be aware of the destruction anger and hate does to us. Then help us to let those feelings go. Teach us to forgive as we are forgiven.