"Help Lord, I’m Mad As Hell and It’s All Your Fault!"
Paul L. Garlington
What a painful, but all too typical dilemma. The number are legion that are in desperate need of divine visitation, but like the comic strip character, “Dagwood,” have painted themselves into a corner. Dagwood, you see, while painting the floor in his house failed to provide for himself “a way out” after the job was done. Being totally absorbed in the project at hand, and never looking up to see where he was heading, he now finds himself caught between equally unsatisfactory choices. “Do I sit here (or stand depending on how far I went before it finally dawned on me that I was heading into a cul-de-sac), and wait for the paint to dry, or do I walk out of my temporary incarceration thus destroying my painstakingly beautiful paint job? If I stay here I run the risk of being discovered by my good old pal Woody who’ll most certainly ask, ‘What happened, Dag? Did Mommy make the bad boy sit in the corner?’ On the other hand, if I leave, I now face the very real possibility of tracking paint into other areas of the house.” Oh the pressure of having to make a decision when we’re also seeking to avoid the silly feeling.

The dictionary defines anger as: a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a real or supposed (imagined) wrong. Do you really want to be a perpetual victim always justifying your angry, self-destructive, belligerent behavior with the worn out excuse, “I was wronged”? Since, according to James, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God,” the angry man is in the proverbial soup. Why? Because Jesus said we have to seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness before all these things can be added to us. Clearly, every angry man is caught in the “horns of a dilemma.” In Greek logic, a lemma was a premise, a matter taken for granted in an argument, whereas a dilemma (a double lemma) was an either/or proposition. The Romans called this an argumentum cornutem, or “horned argument”, because one could be caught on either horn. (Have a Nice Day-No Problem-A Dictionary of Clichés, Christine Ammer)

It’s time to cut to the chase on this critical issue. The root cause of all anger is arrogance. Every angry person is firmly adamant about one thing: “I know something that God doesn’t know and it’s not good!” Why would one be angry if it’s all good? “Woe to the one who quarrels with his maker.” (Is 45:9a) Do you really want to call God a liar? Didn’t God look at everything He had made and pronounce it good and very good? Is there, can there be another creator, and God be the only power? The Book of Proverbs says, “The foolishness of man subverts his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.” (Prov 19:3) The angry man’s “double lemma” is that he must either concede, at the expense of the proud ego, all glory to God alone, or remain in his prison of the lack of all things until he has paid the uttermost farthing. Surely he will pray, but it will be merely the mutterings of a fool who stubbornly refuses to recognize a no-win situation. No wonder scripture said, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” (Eccl 7:9) We have been blinded so long by our sympathy for the sufferer that we are totally unable to see his/her own arrogant complicity in the situation.

“Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.’ And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’” (Gen 4:1-7) Every angry person is a loose cannon on deck, an accident just waiting to happen, a liability to herself and others. Being totally committed to make the case for knowing something not good, the irate individual would stupidly prefer suffering and pain over joy. It would be the better part of wisdom for such an one to immediately take herself out of the loop and retire to a quiet place until peace and sanity is restored.

In addition, anger always betrays itself in our face (Cain’s countenance fell). Therefore, for example, in the Old Testament, as the priests prepared to enter the house of God to minister, they always came first to the laver, the bottom of which was made of a very highly polished silver, like a mirror. As they washed, they could observe their faces in order to ascertain if they were ready to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, serving the Lord with gladness. In a similar fashion, people are mirrors for us. Even when we want desperately to lie about our anger, our face will give us away every time. If you would seek the kingdom and His righteousness, always use your mirrors with an attitude of gratitude. Above all, remain non-defensive. Perhaps it is unlucky to break mirrors (i.e., refuse to acknowledge the truth that others read in your face).

When you are angry, the voice within, whether we listen to it or not, is always ready to initiate the self-interrogation process. The voice gently stirs in the bosom of the angry one and speaks lovingly, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?” Furthermore, God said to Cain, “YOU must master it.” No one can do this for you. You got yourself into this predicament, and only you can get yourself out. But mastering also means that you can put aside for all time this angry disposition.

So what do we do about anger? “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Let’s explore in depth the specifics of Paul’s wise counsel:
  1. Be angry...” Go ahead and feel angry. Allow yourself the total freedom to be completely overwhelmed by the experience, without indulging in a make-wrong process. All feelings, including anger, when allowed to be felt without judgment (sin not), pass through us, as it were, leaving behind a rich residue of self-knowledge. Without making yourself, God, or anyone else wrong, you are left not only with total clarity about what you really want, and what does or does not fit for you, but also the necessary impetus required for “blast off”. You will also discover a wonderful secret. Anger, irrespective of how long you have been in that state, does not hold on to you. Au contraire, you are the one who has the vice grip on it. You can, and you must, let it go. You must master it! All anger originates in and is sustained by one’s quarrel with God. Since God is One, the only power, besides whom, there’s none else, the very presence of anger constitutes prima facie evidence that you are in a dispute with God. The humorous, albeit, sad part of this whole scenario is the fact that since God is not aware of the existence of another, then, pray tell, who, as far as God is concerned, is having the dispute? Do you get it? The angry man is being totally ignored. Hence, if the angry one is demanding to know when God will give him a hearing, how about when hell freezes over!? Perhaps the most godly, yea even, loving way to deal with an angry person and his issues is too completely ignore him. Certainly every wise parent knows that the most effective way to deal with an angry child whose behavior has become totally obnoxious is just that--completely ignore him. It is imperative that the child understands as early as possible that he will never, under any circumstances, be rewarded for his surliness. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease in a healthy family.

  2. And yet do not sin.” Paul said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore, to sin is to miss the mark (i.e., the bull’s eye) which is the glory of God. It was solely because of Moses’ commitment to God alone that he could say to God, “Show me Thy glory.” God said, “I myself will make all of my goodness pass before you.” Remember, it was immediately following Jesus’ declaration to Mary and Martha, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’, that He raised their brother from the dead. The angry man, in stark contrast, is always in an extremely precarious state, totally devoid of any hope of ever seeing the glory of God, until he faces squarely the absurdity of his arrogance. For the angry man, a serious crisis has been precipitated by the appearance of something not good. Does he, like Job, cry out defiantly, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him (i.e., that God is a liar, that I can prove the existence of something not good, and God should resign immediately) and fill my mouth with arguments”? (Job 23 :3,4) Or does he come to his senses and exclaim to the glory of God, “Let God be found true though every man (myself included) be found a liar”? (Rom 3:4) Can you see the absurdity of asking God for help while you’re “mad” (totally nuts) as hell at God for not taking the blame for your plight?

  3. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Immediate action is absolutely mandatory. Don’t even give the anger or the lies that feed it a chance to incubate in your system overnight. To be sure, it is because of the extremely volatile nature of anger that we must not let the sun go down. According to the Revelation, the new Jerusalem where we now dwell, “Has no need of the sun...for the glory of God has illumined it.” (Rev 21:23) Obviously, if you would have mastery, the glory of God is the sun that you must never allow to set in your life experience in order to foolishly accommodate anger.

    James said, “Let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” there is only one thing we should be quick to hear with utmost priority. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:4,5) If we had been quick to hear and obey this command, we wouldn’t have been so quick tempered. Furthermore, the angry man must shut up immediately for it is his harsh words (judgments) that have created the brew in which he now stews. “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles (or heals) the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (Jm 3:6) I repeat, before the glory of God goes down in your life seize the day, act with haste, and begin the recovery process by a commitment to shut up. Cease and desist from all nonsensical inner mutterings that dishonor the holy One. During the period of your self-imposed silence, ask the Lord to set a guard over your mouth and a watch over the door of your lips. Be it resolved that you’ll not utter another thing as long as the world stands, unless it glorifies God.

  4. Do not give the devil an opportunity.” In scripture, the devil means liar, accuser, slanderer, that which opposes. Why do you listen to lies about God? Don’t you see that the accusations that you in anger give out towards God and others must return to you in a tidal wave of guilt, shame, fear and adversity? Can you understand now why anger resides in the bosom of fools? Hence, the anger and the temptation to justify it becomes “a Trojan horse”. The illusion is to the tale of Homer’s Odyssey. The Greeks, pretending to abandon their siege of Troy, left at its gates a gigantic wooden horse, within which were concealed several Roman soldiers. Interpreting the horse as a gift or peace offering, the Trojans brought it into the city whereupon those within stole out during the night to admit the entire Greek force, and thus, conquered the city. In like manner, if you allow the anger to incubate within you, it creates opportunity for the devil (Trojan horse, slanderer) to come in and open the flood gates to a horde of other accusers, leaving you in total desolation. To all those who would be angry, I hasten to remind you of the Negro spiritual, “Done got late in the evenin’ and the sun (glory of God) is goin’ down (i.e., in your life).”

We are also reminded in scripture that, “a gentle answer turns away anger.” (Prov 15:1) There will be times in everyone’s life when there is absolutely no alternative, but to confront the intimidating, irascible bear on our paths whose anger seems to approach us like a tornado. In this situation, Paul would say, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition (the angry man is his own worst enemy, his only enemy), if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (the angry one agrees with his adversary and settles out of court), and they may come to their senses (they are no longer “mad”) and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (slander).” (2 Tim 2:25,26)

Naaman is a beautiful example of this process and its glorious fruit. “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, ‘My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘WASH, AND BE CLEAN’? So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kg 5:10-14) Had it not been for the gentle, yet fearless entreaty of Naaman’s servants who lovingly faced the maelstrom of his fury, Naaman would have forfeited in his foolish anger the healing and restoration he so desperately needed.

It is for this same reason that David, when saved from anger so intense he contemplated murder and mayhem, said, “Thy gentleness has made me great.” Into the fury of David’s great anger came the beautiful Abigail to mollify the savage beast, by saying to him, “When the Lord shall do for my Lord according to all the good He has spoken concerning you, and shall appoint you ruler over Israel, that this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my Lord.” (Please read 1 Sam 25:2-42) The inexorable lesson: All those who are perpetually pissed off run the risk of pissing it all away. Or to paraphrase the poignant words of Saul, “They have played the fool and erred exceedingly.”

Finally, every angry man or woman, sooner or later, must answer the question posed to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” If by now your answer is an unqualified “No”, from the heart, you are on your way out. Remember, the counsel of Gabriel to Zacharias when he began to talk his doubts, “You shall be silent unable to speak until the day when these things have taken place (i.e., the manifestation of our answered prayers).” When his tongue was loosed to speak again, “He began to speak in praise of God.” This same advice is equally applicable to the angry individual. You also, put aside, once and for all, all anger. Be silent before the Lord! Abandon the idiocy of a no-win quarrel with God of which God is blissfully unaware. As they would say in the hood, “God dissed you, and you know this man!” From now on, speak to yourself and others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things.” (Eph 5:18)

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord and again, I say REJOICE!


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