Updated: Jul 6
Anger's Victim. Let's be clear, we are not a victim of anger when anger is our own sin. We are not controlled by people, circumstances, or anything else when it comes to our own anger. No one or no thing makes us angry. Anger comes from our own heart. It is a heart issue that can only be addressed at the heart level. However, we have likely been a victim of the anger of others. That is, we have suffered due to the anger of another. Likely we have suffered one or several of the following linked to anger: harshness, cruelty, silent treatment, physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, violence, berating, shaming, isolation, rejection, etc.
Whether we can identify the hurt or not, anger leaves its mark. No one deserves to suffer the harm of an angry person. Just below the surface we will find the vulnerable scars of loneliness, fear, and pain left by anger. Men tend to ignore the damage of the anger they have suffered from seeing it as something that has toughened them up to become "real" men. The end result is they do not deal with the hurt and they are blind to its affects on them and those around them. Women are often more aware of the damage they have suffered, but will often find that others are uninterested in their pain or they are classified as "emotionally weak," so they have no where to turn. They have been forced to ignore or just "deal" with their suffering. Both men and women fail to recognize that impact that the damage of anger has on them, their relationship with others, and most importantly their relationship with God.
But it is important that we deal with these issues rather than just learning to live with the damage or pretending it does not exist. Welch points to three things that help us to see the importance of confronting this pain: 1) That anger we suffered under is wrong and destructive. By minimizing it, we miss the opportunity to speak to the Lord, who does not minimize our suffering. 2) We easily adopt the culture of anger into our own life. One of the effects of anger is that we often will choose the sin of anger to face the challenges, disappointments, and frustrations of our own life. In Christ, we have the opportunity to break the sinful cycle of anger in our own heart and teach those around us how they can also be freed from the bondage of anger. 3) We can misplace our anger. Anger impacts our relationships with others around us. The anger we suffered from others in our past is often re-directed to those around us (spouse, children, co-worker, other drivers, etc.). I would add another to Welch's list, 4) We teach others around us that anger is the way to deal with things that we disagree with, frustrate us, or disappoint us. We miss the opportunity to live by faith in what God is doing around us and to teach others (i.e. our children) how to work through life in dependence upon God.
So, if we are the victim of another's anger, what do we do? First, we must take it to the Lord as a matter of prayer telling Him about our suffering, asking for God to enable us to forgive those who have harmed us, and claiming His forgiveness for adopting anger as part of our own life if that is the case. Second, seek out those who have offended for the purpose of restoration and reconciliation. They have sinned against us and we are instructed to go to those who have offended us. We must go in humility and in dependence upon God. We may need to first complete the next step. Third, we may need to seek out the help of another to help us biblically address the damage we have suffered at the hands of anger so that we can expose the lies, hurts, and even our own sinful responses. We may need to seek counsel before engaging those who we have suffered from. Fourth, continue to live in dependence upon God, His Word, and the guidance of His Spirit. We will likely need God's Spirit to help us untangle the web of lies that we have chosen to believe as we suffered at the hand of anger. The damage by anger is great and cannot be treated in one devotional, but we must recognize there is hope and a way to be delivered in the freedom of Christ.