Just before heading off to college, I had a going away party. Because of the Tuskegee schedule I ended up being among the first of my friends to leave, and I was filled with emotions. I was extremely excited for this new adventure, but the thought of being away from the people I loved the most, brought tears to my eyes at the end of the evening. Few (if any) of my guests had ever seen me cry, and when they all left I was upset that I’d let them see me so vulnerable. I couldn’t believe I let them see the tears fall. They must think I’m so weak now. I’m better than that. I’m stronger than that.
You see, for a long time I thought my power was determined by the mighty façade I was able to portray, not realizing the glory of the Lord that’s allowed to shine through us in the midst of our infirmities! Yes, we should relish in certain accomplishments, but there’s no shame in weakness!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (AMP) 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) andshow themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
To prevent pride from interfering with the work God did in him, the Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble. He begged the Lord to cause the thorn to depart, but even amid his brilliant and spirit-led revelations, he was told that Our Savior’s grace was sufficient enough for him.
Once upon a time, my pride dictated that tears meant I was “less than” in some way. Even today I like to be portrayed as a strong person, woman, wife and mom, but I’m not lacking anything as long as I have Christ! Regardless of how my flesh is perceived, I want the strength of my Spirit to shine brightly, so that He may continue to be glorified!!
Do you allow the Lord to be magnified in your times of weakness?
For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are several tell-tale signs that help us identify a person who is angry. It may be expressed with a furrowed brow, clenched teeth, balled up fists, bulging veins, a tightened jaw, streams of tears, harsh words, the silent treatment, or the cold shoulder. Yesterday I had an angry day, and it was evident in my semi-permanent scowl. No one did anything to me, but I was upset with myself. We’d just returned from a terrific vacation, and I guess certain realities set in too quickly. I was tired, out of it, grumpy, and forgetful, and was basically having an off day. Not even the excitement of Alexandra’s first San Francisco Giants game could completely snap me out of my mood, and I struggled to figure out why I was so mad? A number of minor annoyances occured, but it was the realization that I’d left an important item at home that sent me spiraling over the edge. Moments before we were slated to begin our lovely family evening I completely broke down. I called to my husband and with my body shaking and tears welling in my eyes I proceeded to tell him what a loser I was and how stupid it was of me to forget. He assured me that everything was fine, but I preferred to beat myself up than accept his comfort. Only seconds passed (although it felt like longer), and with several deep breaths I wiped my eyes, shrugged my shoulders and finally decided to let it all go. I wanted to enjoy my night, but the only way to do so was to get rid of the funk and move on. We went on to have a fantastic time, but deep down I felt like a fool. I’d let my anger get the best of me, and a certain scripture played on repeat in my mind.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
This had me thinking. What does it mean to be angry without sin? How does God feel about our anger? Had my lack of self-control given the Enemy a foothold? In order to answer these questions I had to first gain a clearer understanding.
The Greek word for angry is orgizō and it means “to provoke or to arouse to anger”. Provoke means to “stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone”. The Greek word for sin is hamartanō and literally means “to miss the mark”. While addressing the church at Ephesus, Paul expressed that while anger is a natural human emotion it should never be a hinderance in our walk, causing us or someone else to stumble. Ouch. I’d definitely failed that test, and allowed my frustration to reign supreme.
As previously illustrated, anger comes in a variety of forms. The cause for such revved up emotion may be mistreatment, suffering an injustice, a disagreement with your spouse, being on the receiving end of gossip or harsh words (new post on this issue coming soon), financial troubles, work drama, or simply having a bad day. There are times that anger is justified, but we shouldn’t use those scenarios as an excuse to behave badly. I behaved badly because I’d forgotten the Holy Spirit power that dwells in me.
His example is the epitome of how we should handle ourselves when faced with such challenges. Our flesh wants that immediate reaction, but God wants us to stop, wait, and think before we speak. In Christ we are able to exhibit self-control, pray for our enemies, encourage ourselves as David did, and overcome evil with good. Being in Christ means we don’t allow circumstances to affect the principles of Godly living, and remaining consistent in our faith walk is a testament to our growth in Him. Feeling anger is not a crime, but it’s imperative that we think twice before expressing it in a detrimental way. Whether you’re prone to outbursts of wrath or holding it in until it bubbles over like a volcanic eruption, anger is an emotion that must be controlled lest it leads to undesired consequences. Look to the Lord for your answers.
Some additional verses to contemplate:
Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Psalm 103:8(NKJV) The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Psalm 4:4-5 (NKJV)Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord.
Proverbs 14:17 (NKJV)A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV) Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
Do you cope well with anger or let it consume you? How do you exhibit self-control?