Summary: Despite being deeply hurt and offended, God'swill is that mercy off-set anger.
Title: Anger Management
Text: Genesis 45:1-15
Thesis: Despite being deeply offended, God’s will is that mercy off-set anger.
Joseph Stinson wrote the catchphrase and Harry Callahan spoke it back in 1983 when, as Dirty Harry foiled a robbery taking place in his favorite diner, he pointed his 44 Magnum handgun at the last standing perpetrator and growled through clenched teeth, “Go ahead make my day!” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_ahead,_make_my_day)
Over the years Clint Eastwood has played roles for which he is perfectly fitted. And one could say that his characters are often in need of some help in the area of anger management. The caveat with Clint Eastwood is that he seems to be in perfect control of his rage.
However, people generally have a propensity for losing control of their emotions. When people lose control they may have a fit of anger, blow off in a ranting diatribe or launch into a momentary lapse of judgment. That’s why they call some crimes, “crimes of passion.”
This week we were all saddened by the news report from Longmont, Colorado of a father who took the life of his 3 year old daughter and then his own life. He left a note indicating he was angry over custody issues. (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18657713)
A meltdown like that is of epic proportions and simply beyond the scope of our understanding. When people lose control and go over the edge, so to speak, they are capable of despicable behavior.
I don’t know if you saw the cover of Newsweek magazine this week but it featured a rather unflattering photo of Michelle Bachmann along with the sub-title, “The Queen of Rage.” As if the “crazy eyes” were not enough, the Newsweek folks thought they needed to toss in a little inflammatory verbicide as well. Ruth Marcus commented in her editorial from The Washington Post Writers Group, “I keep staring at the Newsweek cover. Actually it keeps staring at me: Michele Bachmann and the Crazy Eyes.” She went on to say, “I am no Bachmann fan, but I think she was done wrong – and not just the photo. The accompanying headline, ‘The Queen of Rage,’ does her equal disservice. Bachmann is misguided in my view, about nearly everything. But she is not the Queen of Rage.”
Interestingly, after the Newsweek hit the newsstands Bachmann’s press secretary said of the magazine photo and headline, “We’re just not going to address that. We are focused on what is important, which is meeting the people of Iowa…” She assessed Michele Bachmann’s response as having taken an “above the fray stance.”
Ruth Marcus compared the way Michelle Bachmann responded to the unflattering photo and the inflammatory dissing with the way Sarah Palin responded when Newsweek used an unflattering photo of her in a similar situation. She wrote, “Bachmann was in short, the un-Palin. Palin would have launched a jab at the "lamestreet" media assembled to hear her.” But Bachmann stayed above the fray. (Ruth Marcus, Marcus: Bachmann stays above the fray, denverpost.com, 8/11/20)
There is some truth to the likelihood that Sarah Palin’s responses are anything but knee-jerk or a reflection of a loss of control over her emotions. It is more likely that her responses are carefully crafted and intended to barb her opponents. However the difference in their responses in emotionally charged situations is a reflection of the difference in their characters.
Most people have their moments of exasperation and frustration and emotional melt-downs. You might find it either disconcerting or comforting to learn that even famous biblical characters had their melt-down moments as well.
We looked at the dysfunction in Joseph’s family last week and noted that despite the powerful influence of that dysfunction, Joseph broke the cycle of hatred and retribution turning an opportunity for harm and revenge into an opportunity for hope and restoration. But there was a moment in our story when Joseph had a melt-down where the bible says, “Joseph could no longer control himself.” Genesis 45:1
Emotionally charged situations can trigger meltdowns.
I. An Emotionally Charged Situation Can Trigger a Meltdown.
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and the Pharaoh’s household heard it. Genesis 45:1-2
This was an emotionally charged moment in Joseph’s life. For years Joseph had bottled up and suppressed his pain and his anger. When he was 17 years-old he was ripped away from his father and his family, sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, he was betrayed in prison by someone he helped… however at every opportunity he had kept his sense of integrity and his faith and eventually rose to a high place of power in the Egypt. His life was finally on track and filled with meaning when his dirty-rotten, scoundrel, backstabbing, betraying brothers showed up wanting his help.