Last week I spoke about correcting those who have gone astray, and I focused it on something you observed in the other person that needed direction. But now let’s make personal, you have been the one wronged, you’re upset, you’re angry, and you want something done about. There is demands to get back at them, but Jesus teaches forgiveness. That’s a good teaching, but what about that feeling of anger?
God desires that we be able to live in peace. But when we hold onto our anger and form grudges, we are never at peace. When one hugs anger tight, like Sirach mentions, we remain in sin and torment. And if we choose to hold onto our anger, we also will find it very difficult to forgive. And if we find it difficult to forgive, we will find it difficult to receive forgiveness. Thus sin remains, along with the tendency to commit more sins in anger.
Remember that anger is an emotion. We become angry when we feel that we have been wronged or something hasn’t gone our way, whether real or perceived. Jesus himself was shown to get angry before, usually out of frustration for people’s lack of faith, or his disciples being slow to understand. That’s a natural emotion. But holding on to the anger and fueling it will give you nothing but trouble. And if not careful, this can become vengeful and wrathful, wishing harm upon someone else, and causing harm to yourself as well. Succumbing to wrath or vengeance will always cause harm, because you are living in hate and sin.
One of the ways in which we can overcome unhealthy and sinful anger is to practice patience. Patience is a virtue, supported by grace, that gives us the opportunity to allow our anger to subside, to return to more rational thinking. One should never take action or make decisions when emotional, especially in regards to anger. We have to be willing to bear wrongs patiently, and calm ourselves first.
When feeling angry, you should never be afraid to bring this to God in prayer, as we ought to do with anything. Say in prayer, “Lord, this happened to me, and I’m angry because of it. Help me to be healed and to return to peace.”
And that attitude and action will lead you toward forgiveness. Mercy and forgiveness is what God asks of us, because mercy and forgiveness is what restores us to the life and peace of Christ. And we must remember that God always forgives us for our own sins and failings when we ask for it. When you are able to forgive the person who wronged you, it brings with it a sense of closure, and a return to peace. All of this is not to say that there isn’t a place for restitution, but that its done out of proper justice, not anger and hate.
Now what if its something that you are unable to address, something you are in no position to confront. Angry at the church, at the country, at politicians, at a family member. Or simply, angry at the state of things.
I tell you what I often tell them. Even if you cannot control the situation, you can control how you react to it. So the same thing applies. Bring this to prayer, and ask God to help you bear wrongs patiently, to turn things over to Him, and focus on remaining in God’s love and peace.
Now, nowhere have I said that all this is easy, but I do say that it’s possible. Patience is something to be practiced. Anger has to be let go to allow for peace. And forgiveness and mercy is how that peace is restored.