Introduction to Pent-up Anger

We all have had the following driving experience that leads to pent-up anger: We are on a two-lane road and stuck behind a car going 20 mph below the speed limit. They, in turn, are following another slow poke who is too timed to try and pass the lead party.

We are not foolhardy enough to try to pass three crunched-together vehicles, so we are stuck in a parade. We will be late for work or a doctor’s appointment, and it is all the fault of a pair of wimpy, selfish drivers ahead of us.

We become angry, tempted to honk, curse, and make hostile jesters with our hands. If we utter the name “Jesus,” it is an expletive not to acknowledge Him as Lord.

The Danger of Letting Anger Escalate

The situation can be reversed. Our car’s third gear does not work, so we are puttering along in second gear and the one leading the parade. Cars behind us are honking; drivers are shouting and making obscene jesters.

Our blood boils as we are now the target of other irrational fits of rage. Do they think we are deliberately trying to aggravate them by driving slowly?

Woman wearing black and white striped shirt experiencing pent-up anger screaming

Understanding Anger from a Biblical Perspective

If you think God’s knowing the immediate reason for your anger justifies fits of rage, you believe your wisdom exceeds God’s. Remember, God knows you better than you know yourself (Psalm 139:1-6), loves you, and wants the best for you.

1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6

Health Implications of Pent-up Anger

Study after study by medical and mental health professionals has shown that “fits of anger and bottled-up anger are linked to insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive problems, headaches, anxiety, depression, skin problems such as eczema, heart attacks, and strokes.

Blowing up at others causes the loss of a friend, alienation from family, and job loss. Obscene gestures, cursing, and honking at others may result in physical altercations, accidents, injury, and jail time. (1)

Biblical Advice on Handling Anger

Sometimes, we justify fits of rage by believing that ventilating anger is better than keeping it bottled up. While there is some truth to this, God’s plan for us is not to choose between either. God tells us in Proverbs 17:22,

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Ok, so we agree that God wants us to be free of fits of rage and pent-up anger. But how do we do it?

Practical Steps to Overcome Anger

First

First, remember that we live in a fallen world, so have realistic expectations for each day. Not accepting this is setting us up to be frustrated. Expecting a perfect day is setting ourselves up to get upset. Expecting every other driver to be competent and courteous is not reality-based. If we start each driving trip with enough time to arrive, only under ideal conditions, we are setting ourselves up. When Jesus told us,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I believe He included encountering bad drivers, potholes, broken traffic lights, and traffic jams.

When I drive, when I shop, and where I worked, I expected each day to encounter rude, distracted, and incompetent people. To expect otherwise is to set me up to get angry in the fallen world. After all, there are times when others must have found me to be rude, distracted, and incompetent. Rather than setting myself up to get angry, I am delighted when things go well.

Second

Second, remember that when Jesus said He will always be with us, HE MENT IT. Whenever you are about to begin a stressful event, start it with a prayer. When someone gets on your nerves by treating you with disrespect, turn your anger over to God. You are His child always. You are His child when someone honks at you in traffic, curses at you, or makes obscene gestures at you.

Yes, it is ok for you to tell God some jerk is disrespecting you right when it happens. Remember, God sees what’s happening and is bigger than your anger.

Turning to Scripture for Comfort and Instruction

Here are a few of the many Bible passages where God speaks to us about fits of anger in the bible.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18 

I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. Psalm 37:8 

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca ,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:21-24

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

(1) Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government

Featured Image: Photo by RayBay on Unsplash

Pent-up Anger Image: Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

Christian Themed Children’s Books

Do you have a child or grandchild that enjoys reading?

Leland has many Christian-themed children’s books that spark imagination and intrigue with sometimes rhyming storytelling. Here are two that have Christian-based values.

Illustration of toby the lighthouse keeper outside playing with a dog and petting a cat that is in a basket.

Toby the Lighthouse Keeper

Join Toby, a faithful lighthouse keeper, as he navigates the challenges of his important role while finding companionship in his loyal dog, Buddy, and an adorable kitten named Mittens.

3d book cover for samson at the olympics

Samson at the Olympics

Join Samson, a legendary figure from biblical times, as he faces unfair challenges at the Greek Olympics, defying the odds at every step.