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Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus Is Compassionate

Jesus lived as a human (John 1:14).  As such, He experienced emotions.  He displayed these emotions frequently.  Just like us!!  We are emotional beings.  Love is the basis of our faith.  Love.  Love is an extreme emotion, and when we open ourselves up to one extreme, the opposite (anger and grief, for example) is also possible.  Not only did Jesus experience these same extreme emotions as us, but He showed us the proper way to handle them.  With that, I am spending a few weeks focusing on the human emotions of Christ and how they relate to us.

Compassion
Judah Smith: Jesus loves us right now, just as we are.  He isn’t standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of him.  He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.

Compassion is having a deep sympathy for someone in need and is usually tied with a strong desire to help that person.  It is also the emotion most frequently tied to Jesus, regardless of what else was going on in His life.

When Christ was angry, He managed to provide a wonderful example of compassion.  In the beginning of Mark 3, a man with a shriveled hand was being ignored by the Pharisees.  See…it was the Sabbath, so naturally that meant the Pharisees ignored the man who needed help.  Obviously this irritated Jesus, so He healed the man’s hand.  Christ’s message was simple: When someone is in need and we have the ability to help, we should do so.  We can respond in anger, but more often what is needed is compassion (Mark 15:31).

God does this for us every day.  He could be angry…you think He looks down on this earth and likes what He sees?  It’s a world full of sin…that’s not what He intended.  God hates sin.  He loves us, but He hates our sin.  He’s angry with it.  Frustrated with it.  He’s looking down saying, “I’ve given you all the answers!!  It’s an open-Book test!!”  Yet we insist on taking the test solo.  Frustrating.  It’s His compassion, however, that saves us (Lamentations 3:22).  Are you that quick to show compassion to those who have wronged you?

Even in His grief, Christ displayed compassion.  In Matthew 14, Jesus was hurting because John the Baptist had just been killed.  In His suffering, He withdrew for some private grieving, then showed compassion by healing and feeding a large crowd.  See…“his compassion for the people would always return him to his responsibility to care for their welfare.  He did not shut down.  He sacrificed his ‘need’ for being alone to serve others.  Even in the midst of his personal grief, he made life easier for the people near him.

Mark Driscoll: Unlike any other false god offered by any other religion, Jesus did not sit back in his heavenly ease and give us mere counsel for our suffering from a safe distance.  Instead, he entered into human history to identify with us.  He was tempted.  He was rejected by his family.  He was poor and homeless.  He was abandoned by his friends.  He was betrayed by his disciple.  He was falsely accused by his enemies.  He was falsely tried and condemned.  He was beaten beyond recognition.  He bled, suffered, and died in shame.

What other god in any other religion claims to have done this for us?  God loves us so much that He came down in human form so He could feel what we feel.  He experienced all range of emotions, including anger and grief—yet still managed to show us how to provide love and compassion to the world around us through it all.

In compassion, your suffering becomes my suffering (Luke 7:13).  Compassion goes further than sympathy or commiseration or pity.  It is more than a mere desire to help; it creates a determination, a decision to actually help, if only in a small wayThe difference between sympathy and compassion is that the one who sympathizes sees and feels, but does nothing.  The one who has compassion sees, feels, and then does something about the need.

In compassion, we do for those in need what they cannot do for themselves.

Perhaps the most common story of compassion shared in church comes to us in Mark 2:3-12.  Jesus came to town.  There was a paralyzed man whose friends realized that the only hope he had was Jesus.  Did they simply pray for their friend?  No.  They tried to get him to Jesus.  They acted.  When they found that the place was packed, they made an opening in the roof (verse 4).  They literally cut a hole in the roof in order to lower him into the room.  These guys were determined.  One way or another, their friend was scoring some face-time with Jesus.  This caused Jesus to be so moved by their faith in Him and compassion for their friend that He first forgave the man’s sins (the ultimate healing), then told him to get up and walk.

We need to be like the paralytic man’s friends.  Normally, we turn to God for His compassion when we have done something wrong or when we are hurting, yet find it so easy not to do the same for others.  We are so consumed with our lives…our feelings.  This is my anger.  This is my grief.  Where is your compassion?

Funny how that’s the one emotion we don’t selfishly hoard.

Know what some antonyms of compassion are?  Indifference.  Heartlessness.  Cruelty.  Hatred.  Do these words sound like the heart of a Christian?  One who follows Christ?  If you ask me, these words sound like the kinds of action that brought out Christ’s anger.  We are to be compassionate.  It is not a nice thing to do—it is a command.  Be compassionate.  It is not a state of mind.  It is not pity.  It is action.

How?

“We have to understand something about God: he isn’t intimidated by sin the way we are…he looks past (our) sin and just sees (us)” – Smith.  We know the “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone” story from John 8, but have we really paused to think about the scenario?  Those religious nuts didn’t know that woman at all—only her sin—yet they were so eager to kill this stranger.  The next time you see someone doing something that you don’t approve of, before you jump straight to judgmental accusations, stop and think.  What would Christ prefer you to do: Privately judge their actions or get to know them and help introduce Jesus into their lives?  Let’s start seeing people and not their sins (Matthew 9:36-38).  Let’s see them the way Christ sees them.  The way He sees us.

When life dumps its garbage on us, Jesus doesn’t see the filth.  He sees us, clean and showered.  The misperception, however, is that Christ provides us with that shower.  The reality is that Christ is the shower.  Jesus is compassionate.  Compassion is more than an emotion, it’s an action.  Jesus frequently showed compassion by healing those that society (and even religious leaders) deemed unclean and had turned their backs on—refusing to help.  Why?  Because He loved them.  Because He loves us.

And He wants us to do the same.

Love is the foundation for compassion, and “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).  It’s time to get our hands dirty.  Wade waist-deep into the muck of life.  Weep with the broken.  Rescue the lost.  Direct them to the most beautiful shower they’ve ever experienced.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus Is Depressed

Jesus lived as a human (John 1:14).  As such, He experienced emotions.  He displayed these emotions frequently.  Just like us!!  We are emotional beings.  Love is the basis of our faith.  Love.  Love is an extreme emotion, and when we open ourselves up to one extreme, the opposite (anger and grief, for example) is also possible.  Not only did Jesus experience these same extreme emotions as us, but He showed us the proper way to handle them.  With that, I am spending a few weeks focusing on the human emotions of Christ and how they relate to us.

Grief
Charles Spurgeon: “We do not want rain all the days of the week and all the weeks of the year, but if the rain comes sometimes, it makes the fields fertile and the streams flow.”  Basically—without sadness, you can never truly experience joy.

If we have the capacity to feel something as extreme as joy then we are just as likely to experience the polar opposite: grief or even depression.  Did you know that the brain cannot differentiate between physical pain and emotional?  To it, pain is pain, and its response is usually tears.  Crying is the body’s natural reaction to an extreme emotion.  It can happen when we’re sad, frustrated, stressed, confused, even proud and laughing.  Dr. Jodi DeLuca says, “(Crying) is a signal you need to address something.”

The Bible notes three times when Christ cried (not counting Matthew 14:13, where Jesus went off to privately mourn the death of John the Baptist):  In Luke 19:41, He showed His sorrow for the anticipated horrors that were going to reign down on those murdering their Messiah.  In Hebrews 5:7, when He was likely reflecting the dread of His holy soul as He contemplated bearing the consequence of sin and separation from God.

Then, of course, there’s John 11:33-35 where we receive the famous “Jesus wept” verse.  The misperception here is that Christ was weeping over the death of His friend Lazarus.  He wasn’t.  Why would He?  Jesus knew that He was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead.  No, Christ is crying because of the emotional pain of Mary and Martha (Lazarus’s sisters and also close friends of Jesus).  “Jesus wept” is so much more than the answer to a trivia question.  Those two words tell us more than some books.  Jesus wept because He was sad for mankind.  Jesus wept because He was so full of love.  Jesus wept because He was so proud of those two women for not only loving their brother but also for their love and faith in Christ.

Do you see it yet?  Christianity is the only religion whose God suffers with us.

Judah Smith: People’s last words are usually significant.  Matthew 28 records some of Jesus’s last words on earth, and he chose to finish his book with these words: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  We don’t have to beg God to come to us.  We don’t have to plead with him to pay attention to us.  He is with us all the time.

At no point does the Bible tell us that we will never grieve, but it does tell us that in our grief, God will never leave us.  That’s why Philippians 1:12-14 is so important.  It’s okay to grieve.  It’s okay to feel sad.  But it’s how you do so that shows your faith.  It’s okay to ask God why.  It’s okay to ask for understanding.  It’s not okay to accuse.  It’s not okay to claim that God has wronged you in some way.

“Some of us go so far as to think God gets a kick out of our suffering.  If I were that kind of parent, I would be put in jail for child abuse” – Smith.  Parents do not enjoy watching their children suffer, but they understand that sometimes it’s necessary.  Sometimes, they have to punish their children when they misbehave.  Sometimes, they have to take away an item that their child loves.  Sometimes, they have to sit back and allow their child to make a mistake that they know will cause pain.  It kills them to do this, but it is necessary for that child to grow and learn.  That is how God deals with us.  He hates to see us in pain.  He hates to see us grieve.  But sometimes those pains are needed so we can grow and learn.  He weeps for us during those times—and it’s okay if we do as well—but we also must learn to trust Him, as we do our parents.  God does all things for good (Romans 8:28).  Plus…like all good parents, He’s there to help us back on our feet.

It’s okay to feel sad.  It’s okay to grieve.  It’s okay to be depressed.  When suffering happens, you can respond in one of three ways:
1)    Ignore it.  That’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.  Suppressing this emotion only makes it worse.
2)    Play the victim.  A constant pity-party.  This is when we allow the emotion to become selfish.
3)    Use it.  Grief allows us to show compassion towards others.  It allows us to display Christ to others.

I have experienced nearly everything a person can experience (either myself or going through it with a friend/relative).  I have been arrested.  I know people who have spent time in jail.  I have known alcoholics.  I have known drug abusers.  I have thought about suicide.  I know someone who has attempted suicide.  I knew someone who did commit suicide.  I know numerous cutters.  I know a number of people who have (or still are) struggled with an eating disorder.  I knew someone who was murdered.  I know someone who was raped.  I know someone who was physically abused by their parents.  I know someone who was physically abused by a boyfriend.  I know someone who had an abortion.  I know multiple people who have had miscarriages.  Steph and I cannot have children.  I know multiple people who have battled cancer…and won.  One of my grandfathers has been fighting Parkinson’s for over fifteen years.  I have lost a grandmother, a close friend, and a sister-in-law to various forms of cancer.

I could fill this entire post with the pain and suffering I have endured myself or with a friend/family member/former student.  Consequently, many come to me for advice.  To vent.  When they need help or just an ear.  My past grief has allowed me to help others when they’re in need.  It allows me to show how Christ has worked in me.  Through me.  I could be a total mess, but God’s grace has led me here.  Others see that and it speaks volumes for Him, not me.

Smith: Without a doubt, bad things happen to good people.  Life is not always easy or pleasant.  When we understand that Jesus is here, however, we can make it through anything.  People who know that Jesus loves them, who know that Jesus is with them and for them—those people can not only endure pain and loss and difficulty, they can come out the other side stronger and better people.


Depression
Some Christians believe that depression is a punishment from God for your sins.  Some believe that only the weak suffer depression.  That true Christians, wrapped in the joy of Jesus, would never really go through that emotion.  A Christian friend of mine once said, “I don’t believe in depression.”  Flat-out, did not believe in it.  That people who claimed to be depressed were just “feeling sorry for themselves and needed to snap out of it.”

Yet the Bible is loaded with heavy-hitters suffering bouts of depression.  Abraham.  Moses.  Elijah.  David.  Jonah.  Job.  Paul.

Jesus.

Christ says in Mark 14:34, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”  Sounds like depression to me.  Obviously not in the conventional sense, but He’s clearly feeling a deep sadness here.  Grief is weighing heavily on Him.

We are going to be struck with heavy sadness throughout our lives.  It’s inevitable.  You’re not perfect—you can feel depression.  Jesus was perfect, yet He still felt pain, suffering, sadness, grief, and depression.

Perry Noble breaks down what typically leads us into a state of depression in a pretty outstanding sermon.  (If you have an hour, it’s worth a viewing.)
1)    An unrealistic pace.  Think of a car that you’ve floored.  At some point, those RPMs go too high.  They hit the red, and the engine shuts the whole thing down.  Same with us.  We go too fast.  We do too much.  We go too far.  And at some point, our minds and bodies just shut down.  We seem to forget that in the Ten Commandments, God spent more time explaining the need for rest than any of the others.
2)    An unrealistic expectation of others.  When you’re depressed, everything that’s wrong in your life is someone else’s fault.  (My example here): A few years ago, I was miserable at school.  I loved the kids, but I was exhausted from dealing with everything else related to the job.  Instead of dealing with that issue, I began to focus on all the areas I felt Steph was falling short as a wife.  I thought it was her fault that I felt depressed.  For over a year, I allowed our marriage to suffer by putting my problems on her shoulders.
3)    An unrealistic view on life.  They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting a different result.  The world around you is not going to change.  You can’t expect things to get better on their own.  If you’re depressed, you need to change something because what you’re doing presently isn’t working.
4)    An unrealistic desire to be liked by everyone.  You’re simply not going to make everyone happy.  Stop trying.  The quickest way to forget what God thinks of you is to focus on what mankind thinks of you.

Noble: The message here is not “Get over it!!” because it’s not that easy, is it?  Life has baggage and yours might be larger than mine.  But if you want to get out of depression, it’s going to have to come from the choices you make.  You’re going to have to stop being a victim, and identifying yourself as depressed.  As long as you say it, you will be.  If you want to get out of it, you have to freakin’ punch it in the throat.  You have to take ownership over it.

On the TV show How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris’s character, Barney Stinson once said, “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if it really worked that way?  That we could just flip a switch and it would all go away?  While it may not be as easy as just being awesome instead, perhaps we can begin to recognize depression for what it is: Satan attacking us.

Satan doesn’t believe in the old adage that you shouldn’t “kick someone when they’re down.”  In his mind, that’s the best time to kick them.  When we’re down, we fail to see joy.  When we fail to see joy, we fail to see God.  Hence, the longer we’re down, the further we drift from God.  What we must do is recognize our struggles and turn to God.  Don’t tolerate Satan’s actions.  Get angry and “freakin’ punch it in the throat.”  Ask God to help you kick Satan in the butt so he leaves you alone and you can return to the joy of Christ (Ephesians 6:13 and James 4:7).

Fight through it, knowing that something better lies ahead.  I have been depressed twice (once in high school and the aforementioned few years ago).  Each time—my life was significantly better when I came out of it than it was before the depression hit.  In high school, I was on a dangerous path of reckless behavior.  When I came out of my depression, I recognized who my true friends were and found a better understanding of who I was and who I wanted to be.  A few years ago, I was on a path towards a new career.  When I came out of my depression, I found renewed joy in my job, my marriage, and my personal relationships.  Without those bouts of depression, who knows where I might be today.

It sounds strange, but one way to fight depression is by helping others through their struggles.  Few things in life bring more pure joy than assisting others in their time of need.  It’s hard to feel sad if you are experiencing joy.  Plus—if people see you helping others when you’re down, they’re more likely to come to your aid when you need it most (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Jesus did not merely come to earth, teach a few lessons, and go away.  He showed us His wounds, the slanders, the manipulation, the injustices, the body blows, the mistreatments piled onto Him.  Spurgeon says, “If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others.”  We think that life beats us up?  The world displayed the worst of itself on Christ—and He just took it.  For you.  For me.  He showed that despite His mistreatment, He still loves (Romans 5:8).  We can do the same.

How did Jesus handle His depression back in Mark 14?  He prayed.  He took it to God.  Not only did He pray, but He grabbed His three closest friends and asked them to pray as well.  In short—He shared His pain.  He asked for help from His closest friends.  He handed His grief to God.  Reaching out—admitting that you’re struggling—is not a sign of weakness.  Even Jesus grabbed His closest friends in His time of need.  That’s why we have friends—to share our pain as well as our joy.  If your friends are only there for the good times, they’re not really your friends.

Meanwhile, you can always call upon God.  He never leaves you.  He never abandons you, even if it feels like it.  Even if you can’t see Him.  Smith writes, “You don’t think God is for you, even though he gave his Son for you?  He’s so for you that he died for you.  What other proof do you need?” (emphasis mine)  If God was willing to allow Jesus to die for us, should we not be willing to live for Him?  When the darkness of the world swallows you and you feel like you’re about to suffocate, Jesus will occasionally grab you and simply lift you out.  Sometimes, however, He wants you to reach out, find His shoulder, and blindly allow Him to guide you out (John 8:12).


For the record: If your level of depression is to a point where your doctor and loved ones think medication will help—there is nothing wrong with that, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  You want to feel better, right?  Some need meds for that.  Me?  I’m asthmatic.  Without certain medication, I don’t breathe correctly.  Don’t tell me that the two are different examples.  You’re wrong.  In both cases, without the proper medication, our bodies will not function correctly.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jesus Is Angry

Jesus lived as a human (John 1:14).  As such, He experienced emotions.  He displayed these emotions frequently.  Just like us!!  We are emotional beings.  Love is the basis of our faith.  Love.  Love is an extreme emotion, and when we open ourselves up to one extreme, the opposite (anger and grief, for example) is also possible.  Not only did Jesus experience these same extreme emotions as us, but He showed us the proper way to handle them.  With that, I will be spending the next few weeks focusing on the human emotions of Christ and how they relate to us.

Anger/Frustration
Some (believers and non-believers alike) feel that anger is a sin.  Those people would be wrong.  It says in the Old Testament 375 times that God got angry, which leads Mark Driscoll to point out, “Anger is not a sin because God feels anger and God never sins.”

So what made Jesus angry?

Most go straight to Jesus and the temple (John 2:13-22).  He walks in, sees what’s going on, turns into The Hulk, and drives everyone out with a whip while flipping over their tables.  Todd Nighswonger says, “We tend to think of Jesus as half-Ghandi, half-Mr. Rogers.  But can you imagine what He must have looked like in Jerusalem when that indignation took over?  You can tell a lot about what a person loves by what they hate…and Jesus loved people.  Jesus loved God.  He hated anything that kept people from experiencing God.”

I went to a movie on Saturday.  It cost us $20 for two tickets…yet over $20 for some popcorn, a couple beverages, and a box of candy.  While stupid, we’ve grown to adapt and even accept that in our economy.  Jesus was angry because this garbage was going on in a place of worship.  The poor were being taken advantage of and even prevented from worshipping because of this.  Naturally, He didn’t take too kindly to that.

Dan Kimball: Some have made Jesus out to be an angry, avenging figure.  Instead of having compassion and love for sinners, he has only anger and points his finger at their sins to condemn them.

There is an unfortunate misperception about Jesus.  Many non-believers see Jesus as Kimball describes—and who can blame them when many Christians hide behind Christ as a way to judge the world and their “fallen ways”?  Christ is not angry at the person who curses.  He is not angry at the lustful man.  He is not angry at the homosexual.  We are—and that attitude is keeping many from knowing the Truth.  This image of Jesus is one we have presented, and if nothing else, that’s the kind of thing that makes Him mad.

Jesus displayed anger at those who used their higher rank in society to judge the lower class.  Judah Smith says “Jesus’s harshest words were directed at the sanctimonious Pharisees (who) made careers out of ridiculing broken souls.  They imposed judgment without mercy, punishment without love, criticism without understanding.  In the name of hating sin, the Pharisees ended up hating sinners.”  Many of us have become the Pharisees.

Anything harmful to children also made Christ angry.  In Matthew 18:6, Jesus says, “…should you lead a child to sin, you’d be better off tying a stone around your neck and drowning in the sea.”  That’s pretty hardcore.  Committing a sin is one thing, but if you directly lead an innocent child to sin, you’re better off killing yourself.  That is righteous anger.

Are you noticing a pattern yet?  Jesus did get angry, but look at what made Him so: Injustice, deceit, inhumanity, abuse—pretty much any harmful action towards someone (or a group of someones) who were too poor, weak, or young to defend themselves.  As human beings, we’re going to get angry.  As Christians, we’re allowed to get angry, but these are the things that should spark our ire.

Edward Rutland: Show me your anger, and I’ll show you my passion.  We should get angry at the things that anger God.  We should get angry when His reputation is maligned.  We should get angry when people construct barriers to worship God (Jesus at the temple).  We should get angry when there is injustice.

How angry are you thinking about the things that are said or done “in Jesus’s name”?  The KKK claimed (still claim) to be a Christian organization.  There are entire churches who will picket outside of funerals for military men and women…for homosexuals…telling their family that they deserved to die.  Does that make you angry?  It should.  Those were the kinds of things that angered Christ as well.  As Christians we have every right to take action against Christian hypocrisy that clearly misrepresents God.  If we take no action…we are basically condoning the hypocrisy that can lead people away from the truth of God.

Once again, take note of what did make Christ angry, then look at what did not: When He wasn’t received, even in His own hometown…When the disciples fought over who was His favorite…When one of His closest friends betrayed Him…When one of His closest friends denied knowing Him…When lies sent Him to His death…When He was mocked…When He was beaten…When He was nailed to the cross.  Here, He could have been angry, but He acted in love.

Perry Noble: Appropriate anger responds justly to injustice or evil.  It is a controlled, selfless anger.  Appropriate anger leads to action, which calls attention to, diminishes or outright destroys the wrongdoing that caused it.  Inappropriate anger seeks to repay evil for evil, exacting vengeance on others.  Inappropriate anger is selfish and doesn’t make things better.

For most of my teenaged-and-early-adulthood life, whenever I became angry, I spit out words faster than my mind could process them.  Consequently, I said a lot of hurtful things to a lot of people I loved.  Stupid things.  Things I couldn’t take back, no matter how much I apologized.  Smith says, “When you’re in the heat of the moment, typically what you really believe comes out.”

Smith is absolutely right, and that’s why we have to be extremely careful when anger strikes.  Matthew 5:21-22 tells us that while murder is a sin and cause for judgment, so is calling someone a fool out of anger.  James 1:19-20 tells us to be slow to anger “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  But the one that has hit me the hardest is Romans 2:1, which says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”  Often the sins we notice are the ones that we also struggle with the most.

Ready for some hard truth?  Smith: No sooner do I conquer a bad habit than I become the biggest critic of anyone who still does what I just stopped doing.  I make up rules to fit my standard of living, then I judge you by them.  If you follow my rules, you are a good person.  If you break my rules, you are a bad person.  If you have stricter rules than me, you’re a prude who needs to lighten up.

Ouch.

Furthermore, I honestly believe that God has a sense of humor about this stuff.  If you’re going to lash out in anger at someone, my money is on God finding a way to humble you in the same regard.  Steph is remarkable about pouring her coffee in the morning.  I’m not sure how she does it, but she’ll leave splashes of coffee on the counter and floor every day.  I actually find it more humorous than irksome, but the other day I spoke up.  “It’s amazing how messy you can be doing something as simple as pouring coffee,” I said.  It was meant as a joke, but I realized that it had some bite in it as well.  As I left for school the next morning, I bent over to pet Sadie goodbye…and spilled my coffee on the ground.  I’ve been taking my coffee to school with me every day for two years, and that’s the first time I’ve done that.  I literally laughed and said out loud, “Touché, God.”

Righteous, appropriate, God-sanctioned anger.  Unrighteous, inappropriate, selfish anger.  Those are your options.  Suppressing anger is not one.  Ephesians 4:26 lets us know that we need to deal with out anger promptly.  Just because you don’t release that frustration doesn’t mean that it’s gone.  You have two choices in your anger: Show God’s love or behave in a way that Biblically angers Him.  The big question is—how?

Take a moment.  When you’re fuming, it’s the worst time to speak.  To act.  When Jesus went off at the temple, He made a whip first.  You understand that that would have taken a decent amount of time, right?  But He took the time before acting and speaking.  For years, in my frustration, my words were a weapon.  Now…I control them (most of the time).  The angrier I feel, the quieter I become.  I process what I want to say and how I want to say it.  I control what comes out of my mouth.  This also allows me time to decide if what is upsetting me is even worth getting angry over.  It also leads to more calm, rational, and constructive discussions with the person I’m angry with instead of shouting matches that could turn nasty.  This doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes disciplined practice.

What frustrates us?  Typically, when people don’t listen to us, right?  The next time that you’re frustrated because someone isn’t listening to you, take a quick second to remember that you do the same thing to Christ every day.  Does it frustrate Him?  Yes.  What does He do?  He’s patient.  He tries to help you understand that what you’re doing is frustrating Him and how you can fix it.  Because He loves you.  It’s okay to be frustrated.  It’s okay to tell the person that you’re frustrated.  But at the same time, show patience.  Show love.  Help them understand why it frustrates you.

Apologize.  Be honest—when someone angers you, it’s probably because they are reacting to something you did that angered them.  That’s how 99 percent of my fights with Steph start.  Steph will complain about something I’ve done (or haven’t done)—and she’s usually right, I have (or have not) done what she’s complaining about—but instead of apologizing, I take offense, respond in anger, and a fight begins.  It’s stupid.  If I just apologize, Steph will feel better, no argument will occur, which means I will not become angry.  Still…apologizing (especially if you feel that you haven’t done anything wrong) is hard.  That’s why it’s so beautiful.  Driscoll: The natural way to respond to evil is with evil…It takes more courage, strength, and dignity to be like Christ than to instigate further evil.

Know what feels good?  Giving.  Are you angry?  Frustrated?  Do or say something kind to someone else.  Know someone who is also struggling?  Send a loving text.  Give them a hug.  It’s remarkable how quickly your own anger lessens when you help someone else lose theirs.

Jesus was human.  He felt emotion.  He felt anger, yet He did not sin.  We are human.  We feel emotion.  We feel anger, yet we should avoid sin.  Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger, do not sin…” meaning that we’re allowed to feel anger; it’s how we respond that displays our faith.  Simply put: Satan can use your anger or God can.  In whose hands will you trust?


Bonus: A pretty solid “How to Deal with Anger” article by Rick Warren.