Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “anger”

WHY WHACKED OUT STORIES IN THE BIBLE ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE

For those of you who think the Bible is out of date, irrelevant, and boring think again. The Old Testament is chock full of crazy stories, that not only make you scratch your head and say, “Seriously?” but they’re ripe with application for life today.

Check this out…

Many of you have heard this story before, but maybe not in this light. So hold on and read this whole thing…

There was this super old guy named Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham). He was married to this super old chick named Sarai (whose name was later changed to Sarah). Not something we do much of today, but God—who changed their names—can pretty much do what He wants, right?

So these old folks have no kids. And they’re way past childbearing age. Like waaayy past. Abraham is around 85 years old, and Sarah is around 75. Sarah—feeling every bit of her old age—gets a bright idea to give her maid Hagar to Abraham to sleep with so that in some whacked out way they’ll have a family.

Seriously?

Yep.

Believe it or not, this works. Hagar gets pregnant by 85-year-old Abraham. And guess who’s feeling left out of the picture now? You got it…Sarah! Ya’ think? Totally! Dumb on her, but apparently that was normal back then.

Hagar, now prego with Abraham’s baby, begins to look down on Sarah. According to Sarah, Hagar was disrespectful to her and treated her like she was nothing. So get this…Sarah blames Abraham for the whole thing.

Wait, seriously? Wasn’t this debacle Sarah’s idea in the first place?

Yep.

In her frustration and lashing out at Abraham, Sarah says, “May the Lord decide who is right—you or me!” Now she’s bringing God into this mess, hoping He’ll side with her, not Abraham.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. And here’s where I get to the point of my blog. Abraham responds to Sarah by saying, “You decide. Your maid is your business.”

(As a side note, Sarah was probably angry at Abraham, Hagar, and God. She was the one who was barren. She made the choice to take matters in her own hands and create what she thought to be an amicable solution. But when it backfired, her anger probably ran deeply to those three in closest proximity—Abraham, Hagar the maid, and God. They became the targets of her misfortune.)

After Abraham lets God off the hook and tells Sarah to make a decision about the matter, the very next line in the Bible is, “Sarah was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away” (Genesis 16:6, MSG).

You see, Sarah didn’t just react or even overreact. No, she chose. She chose how she treated her maid Hagar. She chose to be abusive. She chose to mistreat her, humiliate her, and treat her cruelly. Granted, Hagar got a little uppity with Sarah and didn’t treat her well. So, I guess you could say Hagar deserved it.

But did she?

Sarah chose. Sarah decided. Sarah opted to take her frustration, anger, humiliation, brokenness, failure, feelings of inadequacy, bitterness, and hurt out on Hagar the maid. She became the target. The target that Sarah chose.

Do you get where I’m going? Sarah had the power to choose how she dealt with this situation when Abraham told her to decide. She could have chosen forgiveness. She could have chosen to build a bridge between herself and Hagar and not a wall. She could have chosen to be the better bigger person in the matter. She could have chosen integrity and honor and respect. She could have chosen to reach out and nurture and guide and love. But instead she chose the opposite.

It’s hard when people treat your poorly. It’s hard when life doesn’t seem fair. It’s hard to keep our frustrations in check. But we do have the power. It’s the power of choice. To choose to respond, not to react. It’s the power to choose love over hatred. To choose bridges, not walls. To choose grace over judgment. To choose mercy over malice.

The next time you’re feeling frustrated, angry, or hurt—and you’re looking to retaliate on those you love—why don’t you consider this whacked out story from an old book called the Bible? Because, you see, it actually makes sense.

At the end of the day, when the blame game ends, you have the power of choice. You control how you respond. Will you allow your emotions to override the right thing to do?

In the words of Abraham, “You decide.”

(***Spoiler Alert***) Abraham and Sarah actually do end up having a kid together…when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. If that’s not whacked out, I don’t know what is.

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DO YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY?

Ticked off.

Madder than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Livid.

Madder than a tailor in a nudist colony. (Ha! I had to laugh when I happened upon that one.)

Fuming.

These are all phrases that are used to describe anger.

Anger is no respecter of persons. It happens to us all. You know what I’m talking about. That moment when something inside you snaps. That moment when the internal furnace is suddenly turned up a notch or two. That moment when our brains send a message throughout our bodies and our various parts react—our eyebrows meet in the middle, our teeth clinch, our fists tense up, our hearts race, our lips crimp tighter. And if you try really hard, you might catch a faint whiff of smoke that’s emanating from your ears.

Anger certainly manifests itself in a variety of ways—screaming, launching objects across the room, inflicting pain on others or self, doing damage to anything in the wake of its path, pouting, stomping, slamming doors, spewing unkind words, hurling insults, etc. I’m sure you all know of people who fly off in fits of rage when they get angry. Then there are others who oddly enough, get angry, but you can barely tell.

You remember the story of Jonah in the bible? A quick synopsis of the story is this: God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it because it was full of wickedness. Jonah said, “No way!” So he boarded a boat headed in the opposite direction. He wound up getting tossed overboard, swallowed by a great fish, and puked up three days later. God told Jonah again to go to Nineveh and this time he did. He preached. Nineveh repented. The people were saved from God’s destruction on them. And Jonah was ticked off. Livid. Fuming. Madder than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. So mad at God he wanted to die.

Now…check out God’s response to Jonah’s anger. And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4, ESV). I love the question from God. “Do you do well to be angry?” If we expand on God’s question by dissecting the original Hebrew word “well,” it’s as if God is asking Jonah:  Is this well-placed anger? Is your anger making the situation good, or right, or beautiful? Is your anger pleasing? How well is this anger thing working out for you, Jonah?

Interestingly enough, Jonah’s response to God’s question was to pout. He went out to the edge of Nineveh and built a shelter. God provided a plant to grow up over the shelter which provided shade for Jonah. (If I were God, I wouldn’t have been that nice. :-)) Jonah was exceedingly glad for God’s provision. But the next day, God provided a worm that ate the plant. Then God provided a scorching wind and hot sun that beat down on Jonah and he once more got angry and wanted to die.

And again…check out God’s response to Jonah. But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” (Jonah 4:9, ESV). There it is again…“Do you do well to be angry?”

Now, I understand that there are times when our anger is justified. I also understand that there are times when we perceive our anger to be justified, but in reality it isn’t. In any event, I believe we must ask ourselves the same question God asked Jonah…“Do you do well to be angry?” We must find a way to objectively step back from our anger (whether it’s real or perceived) and ask ourselves similar questions. Is this well-placed anger? Is my anger making the situation good, or right, or beautiful? Is my anger pleasing? How well is this anger thing working out for me?

In the grand scheme of things, as in the story of Jonah, God has a plan. God has a purpose in carrying out His plan. And sometimes God’s perfect plan doesn’t quite line up with our perfect plan. Sometimes God’s plan makes no sense to us whatsoever.  And yes, sometimes we get angry. Yet, as hard as it is, we must submit our plans, hearts, thoughts, behaviors, agendas, motives, purposes—and yes, even our anger—to His perfect plan.

God knows best. God loves best.

God knows you. God loves you.

Do you do well to be angry?

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