Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

When Anger Hits, Do not Let it Take Control

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"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:19-21).

Being angry is like having a large painful wound especially if it is kept open for a period of time and continues to bleed. It might not heal properly if it has not been attended to right away. Anger can be caused by jealousy from someone or hurt physically or mentally by someone especially when it is caused by the people we love, trust, and is very close to us, the ones we rely on for love, protection, and compassion.

Anger is not a sin but rather it is a valid emotion and in the Old Testament we see God was angry at the people of Israel for their complaining and murmuring against God, for their idolatry, and for refusing to listen to Him. Also in the New Testament we see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was angry at the sellers and the money exchangers in His Father’s house. But we need to realize that God’s anger was based on His righteousness, His holiness, and His love and controlled by His wonderful character.

But when we are angry because of an act of injustice and do not instantly hold on to God, we can fall into many sins such as seeking revenge, filling our heart with grudges, or being consumed by bitterness. We allowed ourselves, due to our suffering, to be angry at God and others.

"So the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'" (Genesis 4:6-7).

This is the story about two brothers that grew up together but their personalities were completely different. After Adam and Eve had fallen out of the Garden of Eden due to their sin and lost their special relationship with God, they bore two sons Cain and Abel. Adam and Eve still acknowledged their creator by teaching their sons to bring offerings to God.

Abel was a shepherd and he offered a first born of his flock (the best of what he had). Then Cain, who was working in the soil with his hands, brought some fruits (did not bother about the quality of his offering).

God searches the heart of everyone and He can saw Abel’s heart was full of humility and submission so He accepted his offering and sought Cain’s heart which was full of pride so He did not accept his offering.

Cain became angry towards God and full of jealousy towards his only brother. Although God spoke to him and reminded him that if he did well He will accept his offering and warned him from the temptation of sin, he refused to listen and sought to know better than God. That is the way hatred and violence filled his heart and led him to murder his brother.

Death came into the world through sin not through old age. People stepped out of line, acted as judges and ignored God warnings. They became poisoned in their minds by sin and as a result they spoiled their relationship with God.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).

In the Old Testament we also see a different kind of anger, Dinah the daughter of Leah who bore to Jacob was defiled by Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country. And he wanted her as a wife. Jacob and his sons were very angry because Shechem made them a disgrace among Israel.

So the sons of Jacob spoke deceitfully to the family of Shechem and told them that they cannot be married to their sister because they are uncircumcised, but on this condition they will consent to the marriage and give their sister to them, and also dwell with them.

So Shechem did not delay to do what they asked for because he delighted in Jacobs’s daughter. So Shechem and his father spoke with the men of their city, saying: "These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised" (Genesis 34:21-22).

Every male was circumcised, and on the third day when everyone was in pain that two of the sons of Jacob, Simon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males and plundered the city.

Here we see that they also acted foolishly because of their anger and decided to become the judge and the executioners and ignored God’s laws.

Jacob was sad to know how his sons acted and made him obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land. Then God said to Jacob "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God" (Genesis 35:1).

"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

We must not forget that God is watching and He is definitely angry at what has been done to us. But to blame God and separate ourselves from Him in a moment of anger is the most foolish act we can do. On the contrary we must run to Him and cling, trust, believe, wait, and walk in faith. Also we must recognize that we have to forgive and move on with our lives and allow Him to take over and heal our wound.

Written by
Nagwa Abdou

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