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Anger and Anxiety

March 31, 2008

Last night we had a concert of prayer in which we prayed through Romans 12.  When I read the command “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” I thought about how crazy it makes me when my children fight with one another.  So too it grieves the Holy Spirit when there is discord between brothers and sisters in Christ.  As it is in my home, so it is in the church.  The insanity never stops until someone just decides to act like Jesus and not repay evil for evil.

Last week I was reading Psalm 37 and I noticed that the word translated “fret” in verses 1, 7, and 8 (Do not fret—it leads only to evil) is the same word usually translated “be angry”.  The word means burn.  Both anger and anxiety are a kind of burning.  When you burn at someone, then you are angry.  But when you are just burning within (reflexive stem) then you are fretting, being anxious.  The angry heart and the anxious heart are both hot hearts.  They both need to cool down. 

Both anger and anxiety are totally fruitless.  The anger of man cannot accomplish the righteousness of God.  And who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Anger and anxiety are two different ways the human heart overheats when confronted with its impotence and finitude.  May the Lord quiet us with his love (Zeph 3:17).

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret– it leads only to evil.

                -Psalm 37:3-8

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2008 10:27 am

    I think that many other implications could be teased out of the fact that there is one Hebrew word that can mean both angry and anxious. Your contributions are solicited.

  2. egana permalink
    April 1, 2008 9:41 am

    So anger is directed at a person or situation, and anxiety is directed at the universe at large?

    That evening my sons really had it out in the gym. I knew they had been fighting, but I was not aware until later how INTENSE the fight had been. They were enraged at each other, and really seeking to get the kind of revenge that makes the other one afraid to come back and get his own revenge in turn.

    How do I help these boys cool down their angry, anxious hearts? You gave us an example several months ago about a cup full of water, that spills when it is jostled, not because of the jostling, but because of it’s fullness. My boys are so often full of anger/anxiety these days. How an I help them empty out / cool off?

  3. egana permalink
    April 3, 2008 10:31 am

    So it is the love of God that cools down our hot hearts?

  4. April 3, 2008 12:00 pm

    Yes, the love of God cools us off, but we must come to know and to rely on the love God has for us. The answer is not easy, but it is simple (uncomplicated)–believe, i.e. trust, wait, hope, be still, take refuge, hide, lift up, cast your anxiety, entrust your cause…

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