Since as far back as I can remember, writing has been therapeutic for me. From writing poetry, to devotions, messages, and stories, it helps me to get my emotions and thoughts out in the open. Today I had to face a reality that has been sneaking up on me for about 30 years: I am angry.
Pastor of Life.Church Craig Groeschel says: “you can’t heal what you won’t feel”. As someone who has been walking with Jesus for about 10 years, as a teacher and preacher, I am embarrassed to admit it. The anger in my life lurks consistently beneath the surface waiting for any catalyst to burst through the surface. They say the first step to resolving any problem is admitting that you have one… consider this step 1.
I find it fascinating that over and over again in the Scripture God promises things like grace, mercy, and rest. All of these promises are conditional on one command: “come”. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says: “come all you who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.” If we come… we will experience rest. More than coming though… we need to admit we are weary and burdened. OK Lord, you caught me… I’m more than weary. I’m desperate.
One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 4:16 where again we are commanded to “come” boldly before the throne of God in our time of need and we will find mercy and grace to help us. Again we must come. Again we must admit is our time of need… again Lord, you caught me… I desperately need you right now.
As I think about the Scripture that says: in your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26), I have to be honest… I rarely get angry without sinning. When I get angry I do way more talking than listening even though James 1:19 reminds me to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry. You caught me again Jesus… I can’t seem to shut my mouth. I won’t even mention 1 Corinthians 16:14 that says: do everything in love. Everything? Well… what a wretch of a man I am.
Love is patient… love is kind… it is not easily angered… it keeps no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It is so clear to me… I desperately need Jesus. So often I’ve used these Scriptures in devotions meant to remind others (and me) of the simple, practical ways we are called to follow Jesus. Right now they are a mirror that shows me: I have so far to go.
So now I’m feeling it. I’m angry… more than just angry, I am bitter, frustrated, full of unforgiveness, and hurt. But the question for me really is: why? How did I get this way? When did this all begin? I’m almost embarrassed to admit it all began almost 30 years ago. I’m embarrassed to admit it because I am only 34 and I’ve been saved for 10 years. I’m still needing to learn so much about God and His grace.
Maybe you are reading this today and you think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe you are reading it and saying: “amen”. You know someone just like me… maybe you are me. For me, the anger started from a broken childhood. I don’t mean just an emotionally distant mom or absent dad. I mean sexual abuse. Mental abuse. Emotional abuse. Physical abuse. Spiritual abuse. I mean seeing my mom and dad do and say things that most people only read about in story books. My greatest hurt is probably the simplest: why did my dad abandon me? Why wasn’t I enough to be loved by him? Why no matter what I did could I not win his love and a place in his life as my dad?
Such a sob story, I know. You had a hard childhood too… maybe yours was even worse. But you know what? That broken childhood has led to a broken man, husband, dad, and servant of God. I am not free today because I haven’t dealt with the pain, anger, betrayal, and brokenness from my childhood. What about you? Be honest… does your past still have power over your tomorrow?
Remember Hebrews 4:16? The verse right before it tells us something very important: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus, our Great High Priest, can empathize with our weakness because He was fully human. The same God who left the glory of heaven to live a life in the creation He created knows the weakness I struggle with. The same God who created me and died for my sins (John 3:16) so I could be forgiven and free knows exactly what I’m feeling and facing.
Today I don’t know what it is from your past that you’ve refused to face all these years, but it is stealing your future. Maybe you were raped. Maybe someone violated you in a way that still causes you great regret and shame today. Maybe someone should have been there for you and they weren’t. Maybe someone broke a promise and your heart in the process. I don’t know what you are feeling or facing… but Jesus does.
I wish I could tell you how much God loves you. Even though I am broken (and angry) Jesus still loves me. He will never leave me or forsake me. His grace is still enough for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I say all that to say this: Jesus loves you too. Your life is precious to Him and He is ready to heal the hurt deep within your heart… are you ready?