Psalm 4:3-5 (NLT)
You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him. Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit and trust the LORD.
I will admit it I was mad. Not once but many times in this journey, I have gotten mad. Angry at the situation, frustrated with the people involved and aggravated with the circumstances that we could not seem to shake. I am sick of watching our son suffer through treatment after treatment. I am weary of driving back and forth across the state. Interrupted schedules with no sense of routine, there is no order to our life anymore. Cancer created a chaos or at least that what it seemed like in the beginning. Just when I think that I have control of my emotions something happens and they come rushing to the surface. My husband and two youngest daughters came to visit. It was the first time seeing the girls in over a week. Brenan was sleeping compliments of nausea medicine and a falling blood count so we played games in the playroom nearby talking and visiting. Hours seemed like minutes and it was time for them to leave. My youngest daughter began to cry until it broke into uncontrollable sobs. Hot tears held just behind my eyes. She could not see me cry or it would be worse. I convinced daddy to stop for some milkshakes on the way back home assuring him that it would not ruin their dinner and if it did that would be okay. As I hugged each of them again before turning to back to our son’s room, I could not hold back the tears any longer. I was so angry that my daughter was hurting. She shouldn’t have to do without her mama over and over again. Our family should not have to be apart like this. The life carefully constructed now nothing as it once was just a shadow of the past. I was so angry. I wanted to complain. I wanted to gripe. I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to be mad at someone for this injustice feeling that there would be release in designating responsibility. But in the end, I found myself biting my own lip. In my heart, the Holy Spirit whispered “be angry – sin not!”
You can be sure of this…it all begins right here. I used to be the type of person who was easily angered by any and all forms of injustice. This was tempered first by the revelation that life is not fair. If I got mad every single time something bad happened to good people, I would never know happiness. As I grew in Christ, I tried to offer at least some grace to others as Christ gave me. Not always successful, I tried to treat others as I wanted to be treated in return. Still I would get frustrated by setbacks and delays, I would press for perfection in myself and other equally getting overwrought with anyone who gave less than their very best. That is until something radical happened…my whole life fell apart. Yes, it was the day that the doctor told us that our boy had cancer. Like hurling a single rock at a glass house, my life shattered all around me. Nothing would ever be the same. Everything changed in a single instance. I lost control that day. I have not regained it since but I stopped trying a while ago. I can be sure of this – what am I sure of? God is good. His Word is true. His Love is for me. His Spirit is in me. Every detail of my life will turn out for good because I believe. Faith invested this way becomes something called confident hope. As we learn to trust the Lord with our whole life, our entire being, and everything in it – I can…You can…We can be sure of this!
The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. We are special. The outcomes in our life concern the Father and He is always working on our behalf whether we see the results or not. It doesn’t matter if His Presence is tangible or we just believe that He is there without really seeing or knowing or feeling Him. God made the decision to set my life apart and make it different. He decided that only the best for me would do. He sent His Son, His Only Son, to die for me that I might be saved and partake of all His Precious Promises. Faith tells me to trust Him. Confident hope tells me that He is there. His Plan for my life is more than I could even think to ask for so of course things aren’t always to go my way because He is doing it His Way. We are bound to get frustrated. We are even going to get mad. As anger rises within us, we have a choice to make of a pivotal nature.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT)
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
How do we rightly divide anger and sin? How can I be sure that when I am mad that I do not sin? Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure. It is belligerence aroused by wrong. It is synonymous with resentment, exasperation, and sudden violent outbursts. Now none of these seem like reasonable responses given the following instructions – live at peace with everyone (who am I supposed to be mad at) and work at living a holy life (Note – it doesn’t say holier-than-thou life). Before coming to Jesus Christ, I expected my life to turn out a certain way. After coming to know the Lord and surrendering my life to Him, I began to construct the life that I thought He wanted me to have. Let’s face it – ain’t nobody flocking to the honest preacher saying, “Turn or burn!” They all want the one yelling, “Praise pays.” His Ways are definitely not my ways. His Thoughts are way above my thoughts. I am going to get mad when things don’t turn out the way I plan for now. There will be some level of frustration when I am required to wait on the Lord. I am only human. Well, part of me is anyway. “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grow up to trouble you…” It will corrupt you. The New Living Translation of Psalm 4:4 reminds us not to let anger take hold of you. The root that it uses to lasso us is bitterness. Bitterness is caused by resentment. Resentment is our response to begin wronged. Forgiveness will kill just about every bitter root that arises in your life. Choosing to forgive whether the other party gets it or not is the key. It chops off bitterness at the root because you have released the injurious party from any expectation or obligation we are free to continue to walk in right standing with God. When we put our expectation in anyone or anything other than God – we take our faith away from Him. When we remove our faith from the Lord, we simultaneously release our hope which is the staying power we need to wait for His Outcome and the arrival of His Goodness. It literally enslaves us. So how do I get angry but sin not! When anger controls our attitude and actions, we essentially allow our sinful nature to regain control of our life taking it back from the Holy Spirit. This halts any progress in God’s Plan to wait for us to get back on board. Now that should really make you mad…
Romans 8:5-6 (NLT)
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
My sinful nature gets me nowhere but in trouble fast. When I gave my heart and life to Jesus it was with the understanding that I would live a Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled life. It is my privileged commitment to follow Jesus Christ. He gave His Life freely, willingly without resentment. This is the example that we are to follow. I was praying about the high-strung emotions that I have had lately with all we have been going through with our son. I have battled anger, resentment and hostility focusing it on the cancer. There are many messengers along the way that were ripe for shooting if you know what I mean. I want the Holy Spirit to control my mind because it leads to life and peace. I must be the one to keep my emotions and feelings subjected to His Spirit at all times. When I allow any emotion to control me, my sinful nature steps right back in. How can we learn to anger and sin not? We have to go straight to our example. He is our only hope for success or we will remain subject to emotional sabotage that leads to bondage.
Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT)
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Jesus Christ is completely responsible for the life of every believer. If you have given Him your heart, your life belongs to Him. We have every right to expect a better life, everything that He promised including healing and prosperity. He will do it His Way according to His Word and His Will. He is our example how to live. He gave up His Life willingly without any animosity, anger or resentment to give us a brand new better life. We cannot grow weary and give up in the process but wait for Him to finish. Anger should always be reserved for sin and injustice not the poor victims of sin who we encounter each day. There is no need for bitterness because we have severed ties with this world. We will never be judged for our anger only if we allow ourselves to become bound in sin again forfeiting our faith. How could we ever? Why would we even consider?
I will be candid in this revelation. I was praying this morning about the brokenness I feel in this situation. I began to recite the promises back to the Lord that He has given me concerning my son. The ones that my faith stands on and hope is secured by. As I prayed, I heard my words and they fell off my lips like rocks. “You promised me Lord that he would live but…” See it right there. Shocked me back to reality. My anger had created bitterness – it was beginning to take root. “But” nullifies everything that came before it. I repented on the spot. I will not forfeit my faith for the right to be angry, mad, resentful or discontent with what the Lord is doing in my life. You may feel the same way if a life is on the line. Doctors and medicine have tried to save my son from cancer four times now we are on the fifth time. This has taken my boy to the footstep of death. Who is with me? God is with me and in an instant I almost forfeited my close proximity to the Lord to be filled with anger, hurt, resentment, fear and doubt. It is not worth it. But as I have told many people this has been a long, hard journey but the Lord promised it would be worth it – I believe Him so no friend, I am not mad!
Psalm 61:1-4 (NLT)
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
When I am overwhelmed by emotions, I have a place to run to. He is the Towering Rock, Safe Refuge and Fortress where the enemy cannot reach me. I can take my cares, burdens, and worries straight to His Throne coming boldly (Hebrews 4:16) before His Throne and getting the answers I need to go on. He will remind me with His Word and by His Spirit as He confirms His Promises and lifts me above my circumstances so peace is established in my heart and mind again. As I learn to live in His Presence and wait on His Way, I will be at peace and satisfied with my life so there is no need to be angry or resentful because I know He prefects that which concerns me (Psalm 138:8) and He is making every detail work out for my good! (Romans 8:28) Why? Because He loves me. Yes, He gets angry too when the enemy messes with me or my family. But see God knows the end from the beginning, so His Primary Concern is that I make it to the finish line of faith to receive the prize. When I am overwhelmed with any emotion, the Lord promises to show us what to do with those feelings and which way to go. (Psalm 142:1-3) He’s a Good God! He is for us not against us. There is no need to be mad – He is working this out for our good! Are you mad today? Are you angry or frustrated? Get rid of it. Do away with it in your life. Be free to accept all that God has for you and let His Peace rule your heart and life now and forever more.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.