There is a common mood spreading across North America right now, and it doesn’t discriminate against party lines or religious convictions. I’m talking about anger.
Whether it’s the pandemic, the resulting economic fallout, or the recent eruptions of civil unrest, Americans are fed up. I think Raymond Novaco, a professor of psychology at the University of California Irvine, said it well: “We’re living, in effect, in a big anger incubator.”
Like pouring gas on a fire, each new report of record-breaking infections, unemployment, or violence adds fuel to everything that came before it. What’s more, people are feeling increasing pressure to choose sides. Apathy is not an option.
This probably doesn’t surprise you. The question is, what do we do with our anger?
By itself, anger is not a bad thing. There are plenty of evil things in this world to make us righteously angry. But God doesn’t want you to remain angry for long.
When faced with suffering and injustice like we are right now, Christians are called to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. But it’s hard to do that when you are stuck in a bitter disagreement with your neighbor or knee deep in a social media argument. It’s hard to be empathetic towards others when you’re being told to take a side and defend it.
If we look to modern psychology, Dr. Navaco recommends that you try not getting angry in the first place by limiting your media exposure (you can’t be angry about something you don’t know about). Not that you should turn a blind eye to the world, but that you allow yourself time to process what’s happening and not simply react. He also suggests using righteous anger to take action when justice calls for it.
These are good guidelines to remember, but I believe perpetual anger is more than an uncontrollable emotion—it’s a heart issue. Left to our own devices, we will wallow in our own bitterness against one other. And yet Jesus says:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” –Matthew 5:43-44
Alone, you and I cannot attain this greater call to live. But with Christ in us, we can bear with one another with grace … even when disagreements get the best of us. And so I pray that his grace will reign in your heart—and mine—as bitterness and resentment flourish in the world around us.
In Christ alone,
President & Speaker