Earlier today I was alerted to something which made me angry. Nail-spitting, lightening bolt-throwing anger. The kind of anger that wells up like lava in the pit of your stomach and makes you glad you are not acquainted with weaponry of any sort. That rare anger making all work impossible. The kind that makes you quiet, severely so. The kind of anger that can only come from a personal affront by a public act.
Dealing with such anger is hard because I am unaccustomed with it. Maybe that is why I dealt with it differently today. Usually I would seethe and listen to the Clash. Maybe Social Distortion. And do so as loudly as I could till my own emotions were worn down by the frenetic and voluminous decibels challenging my ear-drums and age. But today I did something different.
I read a Psalm. Psalm 4 to be exact. My cousin Luke read it at a prayer gathering about a month ago and I’ve been seeping in it for as long. This is new for me. To be so quick to go to the Scriptures when mad about something. I am not sure I have ever done this. When sad? Yes. Happy? You bet. Confused and needing help? Regularly. But I have never – that I can recall – gone to my Bible when ticked off. Righteous anger or not.
It helped. And not because it fixed me. But because it drew me into a story and a conversation about God and his people and the anger they can feel. If anything, reading the Psalm put sinew and flesh, muscle and veins full of blood on the bones of my indignation. But it steadied me too. Without telling me to calm down, I did so anyway. Thankfully it is not the calm of wishing it away. But the serene disposition of being glad I am angry. The alive-ness of pointing to a wrong and not ignoring it. Sometimes not being angry is a wretched thing. And I am thankful for the anger of David. And God, himself, satisfied.
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.