There’s no pretty way to get this out so brace yourself…
I’m struggling with the same desire James and John did back in the day when Jesus walked the earth.
To call down fire from Heaven.
“And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face towards Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of;'” Luke 9:54,55
James and John had just witnessed an injustice. All they wanted was a place for Jesus to stay. The people they reached out to said, “No.” They didn’t get it. They didn’t want the controversy, the inconvenience and frankly, they missed it. They were given the opportunity to minister to the Man who would soon lay His life down for them… and they said no. Jesus already knew this would transpire because He knows everything. He knew He wouldn’t be received…so maybe, just maybe, it was more about a lesson on anger.
Or more appropriately, the right kind of anger. “….you do not know what kind of spirit you are of…”
I recently witnessed an injustice in my circle of community and for days I’ve been struggling with the same desire to call down fire from heaven and consume “the enemies.” The weight of my anger lies in the reality that “these people should know better.” And they should. They are big kids with big jobs, serving a big God who they are trying to reduce to smallness.
My husband has made me promise to stay in the place of prayer, until my anger can serve redeeming purposes. And I will.
In the meantime, I am sharing my struggle with anger.
“for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20
I continue this journey of searching for the heart of God… with the right spirit…in my anger. I am learning. I am studying. I am praying…
and now I have been given the opportunity to wait and hear Jesus above strong emotions.
My anger can hurt people. My words can be piercing…and I hate that….I don’t want that. It’s a threat to what real mercy looks like and is.
But we can’t throw anger out like it’s a feeling we are not suppose to have. We know Jesus felt anger and even displayed anger.
We also know Jesus was not an angry person and that’s what makes the difference. Feeling anger over injustice and being an angry person has clear distinctions. Personally, I have to run straight to the heart of God when I feel anger…I need Him to divide what’s Him and what’s not. I need Him to give me His heart in my anger because like I said…I can hurt people with my words.
Here are a few things Chipp Dodd (The Voice of the Heart) says about anger:
“Authentic anger is a caring feeling, telling us something matters.”
“Anger is possibly the most important feeling we experience as emotional and spiritual beings because it is the first step to authentic living. It shows our yearning and hunger for life.”
“Anger works to enhance relationships by building intimacy with others.”
These are positives of anger in the “right spirit” and I believe we need to initiate conversations that help us get to this place. Because if we don’t, we get fire from heaven, we get riots and we get words that haunt us forever.
There is a way to feel anger and allow it to move us to towards behaviors that promote healing and reconciliation. Denying anger, trying to suppress it and being scared of it will reject a God-given emotion that can be used for our good and God’s glory. It won’t be easy but it’s possible. It’s possible because we are told “be angry and sin not.” I don’t want to miss the mark of using my anger for good. I want my anger to come from a place of genuine care for others. I want my anger to be directed to true injustice and not get distracted with a need to be right or powerful. I want to listen to the anger of others and seek to understand what can be done. I want to help uncover the fear that can lead us to destructive anger…
but what I don’t want and what I know you don’t want is to be told not to feel angry…because it’s not going to happen. And to be told not to feel anger is something just as ugly as destructive anger and that’s control and manipulation. We need to have safe places where we can discuss our feelings (Not just anger) and then look to God and seek His help. He has a way and a plan in the vast emotions He gave us…and they are all for the good of us and others. His way involves true unity around the message of Christ and our willingness to surrender to it.
I am willing…kicking and screaming sometimes, but willing.