The Gift of Anger
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. – Psalm 52:1-3 (NIV)
A lot of psalms sound like tirades. The psalm writers regularly rail against other people for wrongdoing, against themselves for their own failings, even against God for the way the world has turned against them. In short, a great many psalms are filled with anger.
Anger makes me uncomfortable. I would prefer to think of God as loving, rather than angry. But this is not an honest reading of scripture in which the God who loves justice looks out over an unjust world.
When the poor suffer and the cause of justice finds no hearing among the powerful, how is God supposed to feel? Happy?
Anger makes me uncomfortable, that’s why it is so important that it is in the Bible. Because try as I might to avoid it, anger appears and reappears throughout scripture. Anger is a spur to action, a spotlight revealing what is true; it is fuel that can burn when all other lights have sputtered out.
Anger is a gift from God. It is not a particularly pleasant gift, nor is it my favorite gift. Yet, the gifts of God are not to be despised by the faithful.
God of holy fire and righteous anger, light the way for us to your beloved realm.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.