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After Jesus learned that His cousin John had been beheaded, He showed us a strategy for dealing with anger or disappointment.
Matthew 14:13-14 – When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (NIV)
First, He went to a solitary place. Can we assume that He communed with His Father while in private? By the time He came in contact with other people again, He was prepared with compassion to meet their need for healing. Later that same day, He fed the five thousand.
Five years ago, reading contemporary psychology's lay literature showed me that anger is the emotion that releases power to correct wrong. The first question I have learned to ask myself when I feel upset is, "What is wrong?" Sometime after I have given myself time to think carefully about the cause of the anger, I may get around to asking God what my part is in helping to make it right.
I have come to appreciate deeply the role of evil in the world. Much more importantly, I am growing to appreciate the redemptive power of Christ, as demonstrated through His Body, the church — and the individuals who are His disciples now. Christians have the capacity to demonstrate Christ's compassion and invoke change in situations where evil seems to say, "There's no hope."
As time goes on, I do more and more talking in prayer, and less and less commenting about things that are wrong, bad, lost, or threatening. I find myself more likely to comment to other people about opportunities, solutions, and desired outcomes. My growing faith, with the increasing associated prayer time, allows me act to seek God's way in situations where, in the past, I would have contributed to the problem with a comment like, "Tsk, tsk, too bad!" and stood paralyzed.
James 5:13a – Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray. (AMP)
This instruction makes more sense to me all the time, as God calls us to increase in the fruit of the Holy Spirit: self-control.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to grow and keep growing into Christlikeness. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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