When we are wronged, how can we handle our anger? We answer that best when we look at what God does when He is wronged. John Piper considers this in his book This Momentary Marriage: “But even though God has never done anything that legitimately provokes our anger at him, what has he done about the breakdown in our relationship with him? He has taken initiatives to heal it—initiatives that were infinitely costly to him” (p. 151).
When we are wronged, we can reflect God by thinking like this: “In my spirit, I will walk towards this person in love. I will join Christ in this situation. I am willing to suffer so that this person can be healed.” Just as Christ was willing to suffer in order to love me well, so I can be willing to suffer in order to love others well.
Although the work of atonement was completed at the Cross, the work of redemption (turning ashes into beauty) and sanctification (turning self-centered, diseased people into Christ-centered, healthy people) is ongoing. It is an awesome privilege to be invited to partner with God in His work. Not only does He promise to reward us well, but He promises that He Himself will be our great reward. There is nothing greater than that!
This means that when I am tempted to be angry about what is happening to me, I can instead yield to the Spirit so that the situation belongs to Him and not to me. Not only does this allow His power and wisdom to replace my weakness and foolishness, but this also changes the suffering of that situation into His suffering, instead of mine. Double-yoked with Christ, I delight in being drawn nearer to Him; sharing in His sufferings, I delight in bringing pleasure to Him as the desires of His heart are being fulfilled.
In summary, here are the three things that help me to combat anger and gain richness instead:
1. Recognize that my enemy is my anger, not what someone else has said or is doing. It is my bitterness that devours my soul.
2. Choose to be an active giver, truly believing that the best blessings come through giving.
3. Choose to join Christ in His sufferings in order to love others well and to gain intimacy with Christ.
When we do these things through the Spirit, every bit of our lives can be infused with the beauty and joy of God. That, I think, is awesome.
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How timely this article is for the journey I am on.
I agree that, returning love for anger is a powerful tool of the Holy Spirit and can only be effective when we surrender our own will to Him. We can’t love or forgive in all situations and especially in the face of mistreatment,anger, and abuse in our own strength. It must be through Christ.
This brings me to this. At what point do we assert to draw the line or, form a boundry in an abusive situation? How do we show love when in an abusive instance or situation?
Our Lord, in anger of abusive money changers in the temple, chased them out. He called out the Pharasees sin calling them vipers and hypocrites.
In my current situation, I have found that sometimes I have to physically remove myself from the situation in order to diffuse the hostile argument and keep from saying what I don’t mean and/or will regret. Most of all, find that I have been disobedient to the Lord. A recent situation was so intense, that I not only removed myself physically but, I left for a period of time in order to let the dust settle. I must add that, if the Lord had not given me the peace and direction to do that, I would have stayed and sought Him for what was next.
I believe that when people are habitually abusive, we have to establish some kind of boundry so that they know what is acceptable and what is not. What is right and what is wrong. We even do that with children. This is just such a struggle for me. Knowing when to show love without enabling or being abused.
Beloved Child of God,
I salute you as an exceptional and faithful servant of the Lord. You are indeed sharing in the sufferings of Christ, and you are entering deeply into the heart of God.
I appreciate your comments. You add some very important points. It can be difficult to know what “loving well” looks like in a particular situation. Sometimes we love our children with an ice-cream cone, and sometimes we love them with a spanking. In our marriages, sometimes we love by hugging or by helping with the dishes; but sometimes, “loving well” means calling a drug interventionist or calling the police or separating physically, as you felt led to do.
It is critical to recognize, though, that this is part of loving well! You did not decide to love until your spouse crossed a line; you decided to love well by staying when that served your spouse and then to love well by removing yourself when that served your spouse.
When someone is sick, the treatment varies according to the nature of the illness. When we love a badly broken spouse, the way we love well varies according to the nature of the brokenness. Physical separation is the best way to love a physically abusive person when this is most effective in bringing healing. Someone who is trained in the area of a spouse’s “illness” will know the most effective treatments.
Thank you so much for your valuable comments, dear friend. May God continue to give you divine wisdom and strength. May He cover you with His wings and shelter you near His heart. May He pour out grace to you, and may He be your great Reward.
I really appreciated your words of Wisdom and can relate deeply. My heart felt the pain of “The Worrier Child” as well. I have experienced both the pain of the situation and the “miracle outcome” of allowing God to move according to His timing. This resulted in saving our marriage! I believe that the key to getting to that place was to “hear from God” on a regular basis. God’s heart is about the people involved above all things. He will go to great depths to rescue even one. He asked me to lay my life down for 12 solid years before seeing any real breakthrough. But, I wanted to share that now we are living the abundant Life in our Marriage and have just recently had our 22 year anniversary.
I wanted to encourage you to know that God can and will come through. His timing is not always our timing though. In the process of waiting for God to move I relied on Him wholeheartedly. I failed miserably at times and other times I remained peaceful in the midst of heartache and pain. I am amazed every day at the husband that God has Blessed me with now. We still work on issues. We are still being “sanctified” daily but the choice to lay my life down during those years has been so worthwhile. The world would say to leave or divorce… but God in His infinite Mercy and Grace had another plan. My kids and I are so grateful that we chose this “not so popular” path today. And, I agree that leaving at times can be necessary and helpful.
And, finally I want to add that it was during the most difficult times, that I struggled the most with whether or not I was being a doormat or being like Christ. When in doubt, I chose to fault toward love. We have to fault somewhere, being that we are human. I chose , on purpose to go toward whatever seemed to bring about the union of my marriage. THAT was my hope. It was in line with God’s plan for us and whatever HE has planned…..WILL come into fruition. Waiting and hoping were my constant companions and they have served me well to this day!
I hope that , this can serve as a bit of an encouragement in your situation. Love, Michelle
Isaiah 40:31 Jeremiah 29:11 Roman 8:25
Thank you very much, Michelle, for sharing this. I appreciate both the truth that you share as well as your heart for Worrier Child. Thank you for trusting God in your life and letting us see His faithfulness. God is painting in your life, Michelle, a beautiful masterpiece that highlights God’s love and power.
As you say, it can be a struggle to know sometimes the right thing to do! But this we know: it is always right to love a covenant partner (to work for his or her good). Rejection never heals. We never need to ask ourselves if we are being treated as doormats; instead, we need to ask God how He wants us to love this other person. In other words, we are not concerned about our being treated as doormats, but we are concerned for the person who is treating others like doormats because this reveals brokenness in his life. It is important to make this distinction, subtle though it may be. If we don’t, we then move into beliefs and actions that are unhealthy in our own lives.
Being misunderstood, unappreciated, and even mistreated are almost meaningless in themselves, in a way. The only thing that matters to us is that we love well. That alone will be the measure of our lives.
Michelle, thanks for sharing these great verses:
Is 41:31, NIV: …but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Jer. 29:11, NIV: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Rp. 8:25, NIV: But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.
I agree wholeheartedly with not being concerned about being a doormat. I used to battle that at the time. The world seemed to want me to go that route, and not let myself be treated that way. But, as you so eloquently explain it, we don’t need to be concerned about ourselves if God is directing us. After all, Jesus was much more than a doormat when he went to the cross. He was beaten and crucified, bled and died….. all for the sake of US. To Him Be the Glory!!! Thank you Tami.