If there is one emotion that has risen to the surface in recent years in America, it is anger. There is anger on the streets. There is anger online. There is anger wherever we turn. What is the source of it?
Back in the 1960s, many young people were angry about the Vietnam War. Their siblings and friends were being shipped overseas to die, and some of them would be next. And for what? (I grew up in this era, born in 1955. This was hardly a theoretical concern.)
You can hear the anger in the satirical song called “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag,” made famous by Country Joe and the Fish. Yes, moms and dads, be the first ones on your block to have your boy come home in a box!
There was also anger and frustration because many of us felt that the leaders of the world were taking us on a path to inevitable destruction. Why can’t these adults get it right?! To recapture the feelings of the day, just go back and listen to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction.” It was an anthem for many.
There was also anger because of the incipient Marxist ideologies that caused us to question and even despise the American Dream. We had been sold a bill of goods by our parents. It was time to revolt. We have found a better way!
Today, there is anger because of perceived (and real) social injustices today along with a twisted caricature of America’s past. We are, and have always been, an evil, White supremacist, racist state, built on the back of slaves. It is payback time today!
There is anger towards the Church for its alleged hateful, homophobic, transphobic ideologies, and there is anger towards the Church for taking away a woman’s alleged right to abortion. It is time to revolt!
There is anger because the expected job market after college has not been there.
There is anger because, once again, the adults in the room are leading the world towards destruction, this time by global warming.
There is anger because of the handling of COVID.
There is anger towards Donald Trump. There is anger on behalf of Donald Trump.
There is anger because the left is going further left and the right is going further right.
The list goes on and on.
What we know for sure is that human anger does not end well.
It does not bring about justice or righteousness. It does not make for a better world. And for sure, it does not produce inner peace or bring lasting joy.
Quite the opposite. It brings inner turmoil and depression and hopelessness.
As Jacob (James) wisely wrote,
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires” (James 1:19-20, NLT).
Antifa can burn things down. It cannot raise people up.
Raging feminists can pound on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court and shout their abortions. But they cannot heal the wounds they themselves carry, nor can they bring back the lives they have chosen to end.
Rightwing protesters can express their anger with the policies of the left, vilifying and mocking their ideological opponents. But in their carnal fury, they cannot elevate the spiritual or moral climate of the nation.
Righteous indignation is good. It causes us to burn. It calls us to action. It drives us to our knees. It stirs us to say, “Enough is enough!”
But it is made manifest, not with hatred and uncontrolled rage but with unconditional love, with self-sacrifice, with hearts of compassion, with backbones of steel, with faith, with courage, and with action.
And just as it drives us to God, it helps us point others to Him as well.
Only He can soothe the ache in our souls. Only He can fulfill our deepest longings. Only He can meet our highest expectations. Only He can set the captives free.
Only He can transform a human heart.
And so we do not fight anger with anger or insult with insult. We refuse to get provoked in the flesh or wage war with the weapons of the world.
We take the higher ground instead, even if it means getting low and serving. We do things the Jesus way, and by His grace, we have peace in the midst of the storm.
That peace, which the world cannot attain at any cost, will be our calling card. You can be assured that many in this angry generation will take note.
Some will even say, “Please, tell me about this Jesus that you love. Perhaps He can help me too.”
We will tell them joyfully, “He absolutely can!”