Monday, March 23, 2009

Coping with Anger

Not long ago, I was preparing a sermon on anger, based on the book of Esther. (If you’ve never read the book, I suggest you sit down and read it all at once. It’s a quick read, and well worth it.) King Ahasuerus had problems with anger, as evidenced by his spur-of-the-moment divorce when Queen Vashti refused to dance before the royal court at a party. Court official Haman also had anger issues, as we can see from his plot to destroy the entire Jewish population simply because Mordecai refused to bow to him at a parade. But while these characters represent anger, Esther demonstrates the virtue that combats it—patience. Patience enables us to defeat anger before it turns to sin.

As I was preparing the sermon, I prayed that God would give me something to share with people who are desperately trying to cope with their anger. That night before I went to sleep, I prayed, “Lord, give a tool that will help people cope.” I slept restlessly, as words and pictures drifted through my head. Then I sat up with just the coping tool that we need: A COPING SAW!

For those of you who don’t know, a coping saw is a precision-cutting saw that rounds corners and can cut odd angles like a jigsaw. A coping saw allows you to cut without too many mistakes. If you want to cope with your anger and avoid making mistakes, use a coping SAW.

S: Separate yourself from the source of your anger. Just like I separate my kids when they’re fighting, so I also have to separate myself from the source of my anger. Esther lived in a spa-like environment, well cared-for and surrounded by palace guards. Where she lived, she knew no fear. When you feel angry, separate yourself from negative influences. You’ll be in a better place to make good decisions.

A: Ask for help. Esther asked for help from her relative Mordecai, and from all the Jewish people. She asked Mordecai for advice, and asked the people to fast and pray with her. Then she asked help from God. When you get in a place of anger, separate yourself and ask for help. God will provide what you need.

W: Wait for the right moment. Esther could have charged in to do the right thing, at the wrong time. Don’t let your anger make you impetuous. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger, do not sin.” Instead, have the patience to wait for the right time to speak or act. Then, do it wisely.

Sometimes injustice and wrong make us angry. But when you’re offended, ask for the patience of Esther, rather than seeking the wrath of Ahasuerus and Haman. As Haman found out, our anger can be our undoing. When you’re angry, separate yourself from the situation, ask for help, and don’t forget to wait on God.

No comments: