You don’t have to read many news headlines or scroll very long through social media to realize we have become a very angry nation. Added to the usual arguments over politics, religion, and relationships are disagreements over how we should live as individuals and as a society during a pandemic. It’s clear our collective anger is boiling over. But in the moments of stillness, when tempers have cooled, we hear the whisper of a question forming, what do I do with my anger?
Human wisdom tells us when someone offends us we have the right to respond in anger. Our sense of pride and well-being are at stake, after all. We long to be heard, understood, justified in our way of thinking.
Our need to get our own way trumps our willingness to offer grace.
And so, we enshroud ourselves with the heavy armor of righteous indignation, entitlement, and an all-consuming belief that we’re right.
But what if we could lay down our sense of self-righteousness? I’m not talking about pretending nothing happened or trying harder to be more forgiving. Those options require herculean effort and usually end in failure. What we need is an armor bearer. Someone to carry our heavy weaponry for us so we don’t have to.
Is there someone who knows what to do with my anger?
Being fully human and without sin, Jesus felt emotions more purely and more profoundly than we do. His compassion runs deeper than ours, as does his righteous anger. When I hurt, he hurts. His compassion toward me is unmatched by that of any other human, including my own self-compassion. When someone offends or attacks me, Jesus’ sorrow and anger at the injustice are even more profound than my own.
The difference is—his anger isn’t tainted by sin. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Jesus’ anger is pure, so it can be trusted, whereas mine cannot. I’ve proven that time and again in my own life.
What are we to do with our anger and offense? We can’t hold onto them without being infected by them. But Jesus can. What might it look like to lay it all down at the feet of someone who could carry it for us so we no longer had to? Offering our pain and anger to Jesus does not erase it; it safeguards it with the only person pure enough not to be tainted by it. Refusing to carry the offense frees me from bearing the weight of it and opens me to experience deeper joy.
In the same way that he carries my anger, he will hold deep compassion for me and for the one who offended me. His is a perfect heart of love—able to hold pure anger and pure compassion simultaneously. I can let go of my anger and my feeling of offense, knowing Jesus alone is capable of safely carrying both my anger and his compassion for me.
Will you release your anger and offense into Jesus’ loving care, knowing he alone is strong and pure enough to bear their full weight?