Summary: How do I overcome anger from suffering? 1.Accept anger as a normal emotion 2.Beware of anger from an incomplete perspective 3.Confess my anger to prevent sin 4.Put your arms around Jesus
Title: How Do I Overcome Anger from Suffering?
Text: Job 6.1-9.35
Series: Job: The Mystery of Suffering (Job)
Raymond Maurer, New Life Christian Church, Wixom, MI
www.NewLifeWithGod.com. E-mail me if you would like the Power Point Slides (Ray@NewLifeWithGod.com).
If you’re a Lakers fan I’m sure you’re mourning the official separation of their two star players: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. They helped lead the Lakers to three consecutive wins. Although they are two very different players, they are among the best. As the two pictures illustrate, the only time Kobe and Shaq got along is when they were winning. Notice the big smiles when they’re holding the trophies, and the attempt to command one another when things aren’t going well.
They could not play as a team. They both wanted the ball when the game was on the line. And they were continually vocal with criticism of each other. The Piston’s put the nail in the coffin by surprising the sports analysts with the championship this year, but the seeds of this separation have been planted and watered for a long time.
Whenever we experience a loss we experience “stages of numbness and shock, followed by questioning, depression, anger and, eventually resolution” (David Atkinson, The Message of Job. IVP, 1991, 70). For these two men the losses were: a loss of respect; control; and leadership…and eventually the loss of a championship. The resolution was separation. They chose separation over growing up, or perhaps Shaq chose separation because he knew Kobe wouldn’t grow up. Hopefully they can function as a team within their new situations. Underdogs can do amazing things when they function as a team. A star must help develop a team if he wants to win.
The stakes are a little higher for Job. This isn’t basketball, it’s his life. He’s already lost his fortune and his family, now his own life hangs in the balance. Sometimes the stakes are higher for us, or for those close to us. We experience a loss, and “stages of numbness and shock, followed by questioning, depression, and anger,” but there is no resolution.
When the proper stages of grief are blocked it leads to a lifetime of pain. The initial point of pain is gone for years, yet a person still carries it, and sometimes they bring pain to others as well.
Job eventually found a resolution. Even before God brought the resolution Job had faith, he says, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God (Job 19.25-26, NIV).
But for now, Job is in the midst of his grief. We’ve already observed Job go through the numbness and shock, as he sat silent with his friends for seven days. We’ve heard some of his questioning, and the questioning of one friend. We’ve seen his depression. Today Job moves from depression to anger.
We’ve been talking about the Mystery of Suffering. How some of it is kept a mystery, even after God answers a few questions. We’re learning a lot from watching this drama unfold. Today we’re going to learn how to overcome the anger of suffering:
There are four ways to deal with anger:
(H. Norman Wright, The Use of Emotional Power. Revell, 1974)
• Repress it (It’s not there).
• Suppress it (Hide it).
• Express it, in positive and negative ways.
• Confess it…to God and others.
Job has chosen to express it and confess it. How do I overcome anger from suffering?
1. ACCEPT ANGER AS A NORMAL EMOTION
Job is angry with his friends and he has every right to be angry with them. They came from quite a distance to comfort him, but they’re not doing a very good job. One of the interesting things about this book is how these friends continuously fail to respond to one another. They speak past one another with theological platitudes that don’t address the current needs.
They speak past him and say what they intended to say, regardless of his interaction with them. Sometimes the appropriate amount of anger gets a person’s attention to let them know that something has hurt us…or that something is sinful.
Job is quite angry that he’s not getting the support that he needs. He says, 14 “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. 15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow (Job 6.14-15, NIV).
Job says, when a person is despairing for life, friends ought to be loyal and give some sympathy, even if the one suffering has abandoned the Lord…and Job had not abandoned the Lord. This word devotion (çÈñÆã/Chesed) is an interesting word because it’s later used to refer to God’s covenant loyalty to his people. It refers to God’s lovingkindness and mercy. It’s used to refer to the fact that God will always be loyal to us.