Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent?
There is a lot of anger in the world. Christians are angry. Love is supposed to be our forte, but so many of us are more seething and simmering with anger than experiencing and being love.
The first instance of anger, in the Bible, is the story of Cain. In anger, he killed his brother. We don’t just have that fact, but the story is about hurt or jealous rivalry, with God attempting to intervene, and Cain making the wrong choice, even after an encounter with God.
In our lives, we might feel justified in our anger. We would say that this or that happened and it might have been brought about by a certain person in our life, whom we become angry with. What is very unfortunate is that as a Christian, we retain the anger, the bitterness, and the unforgiveness toward the other and wonder why our Christian life is not joyous, fruitful, or filled with peace.
Imagine that in the midst of your fretting and fuming, that God shows up and asks you, “Why?” We might immediately repent or we might not listen and not answer God, and continue in our anger. The latter is what Cain did what we often do today.
We make the mistake of living Christian lives, ignoring God. It is a mistake to live, forgetting that Jesus promised us he would always be with us. When hurtful things happen to us, God is there in all his goodness, love, and grace towards us; but to live in God, we must choose to practically walk with him and receive from him, which is the essence of the Christian life.
We have the same heavenly Father that Cain had, who is concerned for our welfare. God comes to each one of us and says, “Why are you furious?” The lesson is to tell God your hurt.
Anger is a secondary emotion. It is a reaction. Anger comes from hurt or loss.
Cain was angry with his brother. Cain’s anger was not resolved through connecting his hurt heart to God, and grew into judgement of the worst sort.
We get angry because our need is not met or we suffer injustice. Whether we were purposely sinned against or we just did not get something we hoped for, anger that grows into bitterness, rage, and unforgiving judgement is not justified. We can develop an angry style if we continually view our relationships from a demanding point of view that is irrational.
Some people enter into all of their interpersonal relationships with demands for validation, love, and acceptance. When their unspoken demands are not met, they experience rejection and respond with anger. The root of their problem is not with all these people, but in themselves.
Self love is the foundation from which we love others. It is not loving to constantly be offended by people for not validating us. I can not function in relationships in a healthy or whole manner if I do not love myself.
When I am continually taking offense at others for their not meeting my demands and become angry at them, with a folding arms and pouting style; I am not loving them. And the reason we adopt this style is because we do not love our selves. God designed us to love him and love ourselves, then love others unconditionally.
When a hurt happens in life and we feel it, we might get angry. We can decide to stay angry and even get angrier. Or, we can feel the hurt.
When we feel the hurt, that might be uncomfortable, but feeling can lead to healing. Anger does not lead to healing, but disconnects us from our pain and our relationship, with the other, with our selves, and with God.
Part of the process is to feel it and validate the pain, hurt, or loss; without resorting to judging and punishing someone else. We often need to forgive. We also might need to negotiate the hidden demand that resulted in the hurt.
Was I or am I making an unrealistic demand on others that ends up hurting myself? Is there room for me to grow in self love, so that I can love others, and might I need to cultivate that self love through letting God love me, and seeing myself as a loved person?
Some of the practical ideas here are from:
Caring Enough To Confront, by David Augsburger; pp. 36-40