Miracles invite companions. Praise. Wonder. Relief. Joy. Expectation. Hope. Anger.
Anger has been a very small part of God’s interventions in my life, but I will be honest … even in the most amazing experiences, I’ve still had encounters with anger. This isn’t the boiling, mad-all-the-time-kind-of-rage, that often marks an angry person. The anger I’m talking about is a conflict of emotions, where something close to a muffled rage pops up out of nowhere. It’s a biting comment, irrational frustration over simple tasks gone wrong, a flare-up of vein-popping impatience, a desire to punch something at the oddest times.
It doesn’t make sense to battle anger after all our family has experienced in the last two years. After all, God worked on our behalf. He’s still working. Other people have had to deal with challenges that measure way off the charts compared to ours. What do I have to be angry about?
I’ve come to suspect that anger – at least what I’ve experienced of late – is but a face of fear … a by-product of living in a world that is broken. Ours is a duct-tape-type-of-world in which problems are patched for awhile, but not forever … not yet. I will need God again. And again. Then again. Desperately need God. It’s when my gaze wanders up to more than six minutes ahead of myself that I’m overwhelmed once more … fearful … vulnerable to anger. My mind buys into the deception that God’s involvement comes with an expiration date.
But that’s not how God works. He won’t go away, even in my anger. He hasn’t turned his back while we suffer. “I won’t leave or forsake you.” Sometimes He’s pretty doggone quiet, but much like when I sit back and silently watch my kids to see what they’ll do in a challenging situation by themselves, He hasn’t disappeared. He’s giving me time to grow.
So how do I heal, knowing that even after touching the miraculous, pain might come again? That the miracle itself may hurt? How do I heal feeling insecure that others didn’t get the same answers to the same questions? How do I kill the fear?
My grandma had an interesting answer. “You have to search out a place to take out your anger. Find something to hit that in hitting, you are helping.” My twelve year old brain didn’t have a clue what she meant, but I took the shovel she handed me and stomped to the garden, furiously thrusting the blade into the earth repetitiously, cutting into hard dirt and piling up mounds of soil. This was better than slicing into a human heart with my angry words and piling up mounds of hurt. I wanted to pound my brother, but pounded the ground instead – over and over and over, until my grandma had the irrigation ditch she wanted, and I had relief from that desire to punch an obnoxious sibling. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in the process of learning that a pile of dirt can take my anger … a human heart can’t.
I’ve carried Grandma’s advice into adulthood (mostly). There are many things that can handle the fearful moments that want to grow into anger. My garden. My dirty house. Yeast dough as it forms into cinnamon rolls (except when I eat too many and then am REALLY frustrated.) And the devil. I can punch away at him in prayer. It’s the best way to fight back. Truly. I keep this quote around as a reminder that if I want to fight someone, the devil deserves it most.
“The one concern of the Devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” ― Samuel Chadwick
Finally, if I can’t find something safe to “hit”, there’s always the attempt to lighten up and find something to laugh about. That’s usually not too hard at our house.
Father, thank you. Thank you that all You need is six minutes at a time. Thank you that through the surrender and through the prayers – and even through the anger, You will keep on working. Open my heart to see You standing in even the darkest of corners. Let me have courage. Let me keep reaching … for You and for others. Help me to react more like Christ. Amen.