Archives For Anger

It has been nearly 25 years since the phone rang bringing us the terrible news that my younger cousin Jacob had been badly hurt. He had been playing with some neighbor kids and in a freak accident a guttering spike had been driven 6 inches into his brain. It entered between his eyeball and the orbital bone. He was rushed to the hospital, but the situation was grave and the doctors gave us very little hope that he would survive. It would take a miracle.

During this crisis, our family scrambled into action. Several hurried to the hospital to be with Jacob. Several others gathered at with my grandmother’s house to wait.

The usually light atmosphere at my grandparents’ house was replaced by one of heaviness and sorrow. Without much conversation, we gathered around Grandma who lay weeping on the couch. With Jacob barely clinging to life, we did the only thing we felt we could do. We prayed. I did not know it at the time but that prayer would forever change how I approached God in prayer.

As we began to pray, my grandmother could do nothing but weep. We prayed and she cried. She cried and said “Please, Father” under her breath as we timidly plead for Jacob’s healing. As the family prayer session went on, Mommaw started to pray.

There was no pretense or pleasantries in her prayer. At first it was agonizing to listen to her, but then the agony, while still present, began to give way as she charged boldly into the throne room of the Almighty. It was clear that she was asking for God’s help. She wanted Him to heal Jake, but it was also more than that. She also needed His presence, for without His presence she could not survive the pain. She needed to know that even in this terrible circumstance God was near. That He still heard and still cared.

By the time she really hit her stride in prayer, we had all stopped praying. We simply knelt quietly, and with our eyes wide open we watched Mommaw pray. We all knew she had taken us to a holy and intimate place. It was a place she seemed to know well; she had obviously been there before.

In those tense and fearful moments, Mommaw showed us that what we all really need in times of intense grief and sorrow is the Lord’s presence. We longed for Jacob’s healing—and by God’s grace and mercy we got what we wanted—but what we really needed more than anything else was God Himself. For He truly is our only hope in life and in death.

October Baby

Jeff Olson —  January 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Over the weekend I watched the film October Baby. It tells the story of a college-aged girl named Hannah whose world is turned upside down after she discovers she is the adopted survivor of a failed abortion.

This story about a girl whose life almost wasn’t is a powerful film on forgiveness. Hannah had to wrestle through strong bitter feelings and forgive several people before she could move on with her life.

The film’s grace-filled, non-condemning treatment of Hannah’s biological mother, who had attempted to abort her, was also a surprising breath of fresh air. Women who suffer the heartache of having had an abortion may find watching this film to be a very healing experience.

Something Hannah’s adoptive dad shared with her near the end of the movie also stuck with me. Hannah’s discovery and search for her birth mother caused a lot of tension between the two of them, which he often didn’t handle well. As they stood next to each other at the graveside of the twin brother Hannah never knew she had, her dad confessed,

“It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that I’m trying honestly to learn to trust God again.”

Leaving things we care about in God’s capable and loving hands is a most important lesson for us all to learn.

The major sports story this past week wasn’t what was accomplished on the field of play but what went on behind the scenes in the life of the man who was until recently renowned as the greatest competitive cyclist of all time—Lance Armstrong.

In his exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance finally admitted what many have suspected and some have know for the last 14 years—that the 7-time Tour de France champion used performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping throughout his cycling career to gain an edge over his opponents.

As he described it, his “ruthless desire to win at all costs” drove him to brazenly lie about his use of banned substances for over a decade. His deep fear of losing propelled him to do whatever he thought it would take to win.

Losing was never an option for Lance. And that gets dangerous, not only for him, but for all of us who have drank from the winning-is-the-only-thing well.

When I watched Lance’s interview, what flashed through my mind was the scene from Cool Runnings, the 1993 Disney film about the Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics. Irv, played by John Candy, was a former U.S. Olympic champion in the four-man bobsled event. He’d been stripped of his two gold metals and banned from competing in the sport ever again for cheating in his last competition by placing weights in the front of the sled.

Derice Bannock, the driver of the Jamaician team that Irv was coaching, asked him why he cheated and this was Irv’s response: “It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?”

Derice: “No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.”

Irv: “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it”

When winning is everything, you’ll stop at nothing.

If we lose ourselves in winning at any price, we truly lose ourselves. We become less than who we were made to be. We fail to recognize that we are more than our accomplishments, more than our net worth, more than where we live or what we drive or what we wear.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book Bread for the Journey, “There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. . . . Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. . . . Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness” (Jan. 4).

I think Henri had it right. Hopefully, Lance is on his way to learning that too.

But what about you and me? How aware are you that you’re sacrificing your integrity at the alter of your drive for success? Whether it’s in your profession performance or keeping up a well-manicured image in relationships, it’s time to admit that all of us struggle.

I know I do.

Drivenness to succeed in ministry is still drivenness. It’s all about me. The apostle Paul reminds us to “make it our goal to please Him [Jesus]” (2 Cor. 5:9). When we focus on Him, it’s not about winning but about fruitfulness through faithfulness.

Lance reminded me in his interview that winning at all costs simply costs too much. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him and lose our life for His sake (Mark 8:35) is the way to discover a richness and fulfillment in life that surpasses any other finish line we may attempt to cross. And that’s the real victory.

Hatred just seems to be inconsistent with God’s call for Christians to be known for being loving. However, there is a good side to hatred that Christians are called to demonstrate that is consistent with God’s imperative to authentically love (Romans 12:9).

Like any other emotion, anger can be good or bad; it just depends on the motives going on underneath the surface that determines whether it’s good or bad. Anger that is serving selfish purposes as opposed to godly purposes is destructive to loving relationships and is wrong.

Cutting and self-harming disorders are on the rise. There are many who feel a profound sense of relief as they see their blood flowing from wounds they have inflicted on themselves. Wracked by deeper pain they can’t control, they settle for self-inflicted relief that they can control. In their minds some control is better than no control.

Life is hard. And if we’re honest, it hurts living in a world that is broken. Sometimes the pain and losses simply pile up to the point that we just can see over them. When our vision for what’s valuable and important to us is obscured by the pain and losses that have stacked up around us, no longer living in the middle of the chaos can become attractive.

For many Christians the words “good” and “angry” don’t belong in the same sentence. But that isn’t the God of the Bible’s approach to anger. He commands his children to be angry about some things and then to revoke anger about other things. How can you know when it’s good to be angry and when it isn’t? That is when we’re called to follow His lead in handling our anger appropriately.

There’s a misconception that forgiveness relieves my feelings of anger and pain. Listen in as Dr. Dan Allender describes how God uses our pain and anger over injustices to cultivate an empathy for others who hurt and a zeal for justice against evil.

Disciplining children consistently in love is one of the major challenges of parenting. But when we’re honest about our parenting, we all have been guilty at times of disciplining our children more out of anger than love. And that’s just wrong. But the good news is that if we’re willing to learn, God often uses those failures to teach us and our children more significant lessons about ourselves than when we do well.