Pastor John Anderson
Anger or Anguish?
"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).
I had a mentor early in ministry who gave me this statement: If you want to learn who you really are, ask three questions: What makes me laugh? What makes me angry? What makes me weep? These are fairly good tests that can help us identify how we are doing with our Christian character.
Will Rogers was well known for his humor, but he also knew how to be sober. One day he was entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with broken backs and other extreme physical handicaps. Rogers had everyone laughing, even patients in really bad condition; he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room.
Milton Berry followed him to ensure that everything was alright. When he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall, weeping uncontrollably. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers reappeared on the platform, as jovial as before.
We are three weeks into a major crisis in our world. Reports are coming in by the day of unrest and people getting agitated because their lives are not the same. Social distancing has now become a household word, hands are chapped due to washing, and no matter how large your house may be, the walls can start to feel like they are closing in around you. Sports are cancelled, markets are down, unemployment is up, and we as a nation are going to start losing our cool. These are moments that are revealing our character.
Social media is a huge billboard of the heart. I am amazed at the number of political geniuses, medical experts, religious gurus, and financial titans emerging over the past short weeks! We all know that the experts in these fields post everything they know in 250 characters or less on twitter. Right?
Why are people so quick to lash out at leaders? Why are people quick to post hurtful things towards others just at the expense of getting a cheap laugh? Why does foul language get posted and retweeted? This all come from the heart that reveals our true character.
What is needed today is not anger but anguish. The kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people. The kind Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city.
The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry and spout off on social media or in conversation with a friend, but this does not produce anything righteous. Stop today. Let your anger subside and let the Holy Spirit of God produce anguish in your life for your fellow man. God is working through this crisis and He is looking for people whom He may use to demonstrate His heart towards a watching world. Please keep the anger in check Christian friend, try anguish. God smiles and draws near to tears and brokenness.