Hurt! Anger! Tears of Frustration flow down my cheeks as I type this. I feel insulted, betrayed, and as if I am being punished for something I had no control over. Sure, I could lie and go with the flow, or I could do whats right in my heart. Easy decision, or so I thought. Attempting to move through the hurt… not as easy.
A few days ago, a friend of mine shared this devotional, and I’ve read it at least 12 times since then. It’s not an easy process, I struggle with it about every 30-40 min. I start to dial a number, or write an email so the right ear can hear the hurt and frustration but in the end, there is no benefit to it. I won’t feel better once they’ve heard me, it wont change actions that have already been put in motion.
So instead, for the 4th time today, I re-read this devotion, this time-sharing it with you, and pray for the strength to make it through to the next bout, and I will keep doing so until they are further and further apart, and until I can let go of this once and for all.
(Ugh! Sometimes being human is rough….)
“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)
I had been lied to, betrayed and hurt. I was angry, and thought I had every right to be. Day after day, anger crushed my desire to forgive. Although I had asked God to fill my heart with mercy, my mental list of reasons I should be mad kept overriding my empty prayers. It was as if voices in my head were arguing with each other. One tried to convince me I was correct in feeling angry; the other tried to persuade me that mercy was the right choice.
For months, the loudest voice was the one that aligned with my damaged emotions, and unfortunately the one I listened to. Yes, I have a right to be angry. Anyone would agree. Listening to the voice of bitterness and unforgiveness, I started lashing out in my actions with impatience and unkindness. Oh, I could play the good-Christian-girl for a while, masking my feelings. But if something was said or done to trigger my suppressed hurt, hostility and resentment would catapult to the surface.
Reading our key verse from James one morning, I felt God urging me to realize the misleading direction my emotions were taking me, and damage they were doing. I couldn’t help but notice how it says “everyone” should be slow to speak and slow to anger. This truth from God’s Word left no room for my excuses or righteous indignation, even though I felt like my anger was justified for being wronged. And then a few verses later, I read James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (NIV).
I knew that from a worldly perspective, I had every right to be angry. But from God’s perspective, my anger was adding to the sin of the situation. My unforgiveness was keeping me from living out the reality of the Gospel in my own life—by extending the same mercy and forgiveness God has given me through Jesus.
Through the words of James, God softened my heart, making me aware that although I said I’d forgiven this person with my words, I had not forgiven with my heart and it was time to do so and move on. In every area of life, including managing our most powerful emotions, God tells us to be quick to listen (to Him and others), slow to speak and slow to become angry. As we apply these practices in our relationships, we become ‘doers’ of His Word, not just ‘hearers’ and that leads to the righteousness God desires in each of us. (devotion by Tracie Miles)