When people leave the LDS Church, many will experience powerful feelings of hurt and anger. Expressed anger can make a person feel powerful and in control, but it blocks the pain and causes more harm. We are made in God’s image and if Jesus felt anger over hardness of heart, sin, and injustice, then anger is a normal feeling for us as well. But not all expressions of anger are helpful.
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[Related Series: Handling Tough Emotions]
This kind of anger can serve a purpose. In John 2:13-16, Jesus was angry at the moneychangers in the temple.
The religious leaders often tried to trick Jesus with the commandments or rules about healing on the Sabbath. When Jesus saw the hardness of their hearts toward human suffering, he became angry.
Mark 3:5 Jesus looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!
Not all the anger that we feel is righteous.
James 1:20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
When we have immediate and intense feelings, we say something has triggered us. Being self-aware, we can see that there is an exaggerated response in the present, but something deeper is going on under the surface. Anger reveals a heart issue that needs to be worked on. Unresolved anger allows bitterness to take a hold of our heart. It won’t be long before something else strikes that hurt nerve that has never been fully healed.
God saw this kind of anger in Cain. In Genesis 4:7, God warned Cain to get a grip on his anger: “Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it.”
We need patience to overcome unrighteous anger.
Proverbs 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
How do we actually have patience when we are overwhelmed by anger? How do we stop being angry at the end of the day? How do we keep that anger from being a sin?
Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
If we have trusted Jesus for our salvation, and allow him to work within us, the Holy Spirit will produce a different response.
When we feel anger and bitterness, it is a sign of being too focused on what happened to us in the past. When we give those feelings to God, we have a change of heart. Those feelings will fade as we focus on him and trust him for our good.
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
God promises a new heart and a new life. He works within us to heal our hurt and pain. Focus on God. Ask him to heal you. He will take away your anger and un-root the bitterness in your heart. It is his job to insure that justice is served, not ours.
[Related: How to Manage Your Anger Issues]
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[Related: Anger Management Techniques]