Sometimes, I’d rather stay furious than take seriously the words in the Bible: don’t go to bed angry. I find some satisfaction in being annoyed. If I back down too easily, it’s like I’m letting the other person off who has wronged me.
I can think of at least one occasion when this has happened.
Returning from a pediatrician’s appointment with my daughter, a driver suddenly cut in front of me from the right-hand lane of the highway. I jammed my foot on the brake, so as not to hit her. “You idiot,” I yelled while thumping my fist on the horn.
However, this reaction did not placate me. I sat bolt upright, gripped the wheel, stuck my foot hard on the gas, and swung the car wildly into the inside lane. I could see the driver as I drew level with her car. She looked at the road, either unaware of my presence or refusing to acknowledge me. This infuriated me further. “You *****,” I shouted loudly. My veins pumped with adrenaline. My head swiveled to the left, then straight ahead, left, and ahead as I glared at her and tried to keep my eyes on the road at the same time.
Then I heard a small voice next to me. “Mom,” implored my daughter who had slid down the passenger seat to be out of view. “Stop it.”
We might think we are justified in being irritated, but when we let rage become outrage, we create an opportunity for evil to step in.
We say, either consciously or subconsciously: “I will get my own back.”
We respond with the silent treatment.
We make mean comments—deliberately—to hurt.
And, we drive dangerously to intimidate the other driver.
So how do we pray when we’re angry and want revenge?
Bring your anger to the Lord.
If you want to see what letting rip in prayer looks like, read Psalm 109:8-13.
This is a fine example of wanting really bad things to happen to the other person.
Let’s be honest. Haven’t you muttered under your breath “I could kill them.” Of course, we don’t really mean we want them dead. But, sometimes things get out of control. Take Cain and Moses for instance.
It’s much better to bring your fury to God.
Leave your thoughts of revenge with God.
O God, don’t sit idly by, silent and inactive when we pray. Answer us! Deliver us! Begins Psalm 83. It goes on to say: Utterly disgrace them until they recognize your power and name, O Lord.
Remember that payback is God’s job.
Instead, ask God to defend you. O Lord, fight those fighting me; declare war on them for their attacks on me, says Psalm 35.
A proverb reminds us: Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; he’ll settle the score.
Take a deep breath. Rise above it and…
Just as we are to forgive, we are to bless those who make our lives a misery.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14 (NIV)
We might pray for God to retaliate on our behalf, but our prayers shouldn’t stop there.
We are to ask him to show favor to those who harass us, to treat well the people who mistreat us, to bring good things to those who do bad things to us.
We might have to make the effort through gritted teeth, but when we do, we are blessed too. We are promised peace, and hearts and minds that are guarded from the next attack.
When we are angry, we want to do more than get over it. We pray to live at peace.
Photo by Hans Isaacson on Unsplash