Anger can motivate.
MARCH 1, 2023
Anger can motivate. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. We’ve been talking about anger as a part of lament, from a book that I wrote Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And there’s a chapter in that book titled, Then you Get Angry. I had written a chapter on, Then You Die. And then later we’re going to talk about Then You Repent. And Then You Laugh, but life is hard and then you get angry. And we’ve been talking about that this week, some last week, but there’s one more thing that ought to be mentioned as we talk about anger. And it’s the motivating power of anger, for instance, after Paul had spoken some harsh words to the people at Corinth, he was anxious to come to them, so that he could remedy a false perception of what he had said. Now, I’ve been a pastor for longer years, more years than a lot of you have been alive, and I can’t tell you how often that’s happened to me. And so, I identify with the apostle Paul. I can’t tell you the nights when I’ve said, I wish I hadn’t said that. Man. I wish I could go back and correct that. That was really a dumb thing that I said or did. And so, Paul in II Corinthians 2:4 writes these words.
For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
In other words, Paul’s anger motivated his expression of love. The danger of lament is that if we aren’t careful, it can become a dark place that we come to enjoy. We can play the martyr with God and others, and there is great payback in that kind of self-righteous. A lot of victimology, I’ve been hurt and suffered more injustice than you have. You have no idea how much I’ve suffered. A lot of that finds its source right there. One of the reasons for the themes of laughter and freedom throughout the book that I wrote is that we’re not called to be people who are in perpetual lament. That’s called clinical depression. That isn’t spiritual and that’s not what the Bible is talking about. It isn’t real lament. I’ve often said to myself and to others, when I’ve gone through a period of dark and it’s appropriate sidekick lament, that’s worth a couple of days of tears, maybe three. After that, don’t just sit there, do something else. There is truth in an old Chinese proverb.
It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Not only that, anger is often the match that lights the candle. That’s why Paul said, be angry, but don’t let the sun go down on your anger. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army once said.
That when he got the poor of London on his heart, God had all of them there was to have.
I suspect that getting the poor of London on his heart broke his heart, but I’ll bet you something else. I also suspect that watching a child go hungry or a man unable to feed his family, made him angry too. So, don’t waste your anger, statements like, this isn’t right, or I’m not going to take it anymore, or I’m going to stand against this injustice, or I’m going to say something, or I’m going to love the unlovely, I can’t do everything but I can do something. All are a part of the motivational power of lament and anger. My friend, Dr. Jim Stout, he’s in California, he is a counselor and he works with men and he’s been through some, man, if I had time, I’d tell you a story. It’s an unbelievably difficult and dark story. He was the minister to young people at a church that I served once. And it was on an island Key Biscayne. And Key Biscayne is out in the bay in Miami and overlooks the skyline of Miami. And there was a significant drug problem there among the teenagers and after Jim Stout had served for four years, there was no longer any drug problem, period. It was gone. Kids were coming to Christ in droves. He’s an amazing and gifted guy. But anyway, in his book, Writings of Pain, Writings of Hope: Inside the Mind of a Suicidal Christian Leader and How He Survived. My, that’s an interesting title, but in that book is a very, and it’s a very painful one to read. In a sense, it’s a book of laments that come from Jim’s journal, thoughts of someone who’s been there and done that. This is what Jim writes.
The primary target audience of this book is other depression fighters. To share with them, so they may too find comfort, understanding, and incentive to seek lifesaving help.
His book is hard to read. The Lament is real and scary, but then he did write the book. And anger was a part of that. You can write a book too. Lament isn’t a place where you just live in the dark. God leads you out. And sometimes in the way he leads you out and you have to repent later is with legitimate anger. How about that? You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve Brown. What a great reminder that anger is part of lament and in fact can motivate us in a God-honoring. All of this, of course, is from Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament, which is available everywhere now. Well, Steve has mentioned Brant Hansen several times. He’s one of our favorite guests on Steve Brown Etc. But there’s another guy we’re rather fond of who has joined us several times, Trevin Wax. In Trevin’s latest book, he proposes that orthodoxy should be thrilling. Wait, is that a type? Yes. No thrilling. Take a listen to this excerpt to see if he’s able to make his case.
Trevin Wax: Well, this is one of those titles that puts two words together that you don’t see very often, purposefully so. I wouldn’t think of it as a theologian type book because you know, it’s often been said everybody’s a theologian, the only question is if you’re a good one or a bad one. So, we all have some view about God, who God is, what God is like, who Jesus is. You know, Jesus asks the question of his disciples, who do you say that I am? And I think all Christian theology is in some ways a response to that question. And the beautiful thing is there’s an adventure in discovering over a lifetime the depths of the answer to that question of who Jesus is and what he has done.
That’s really true.
Trevin Wax: I want people to capture the thrill, not of doctrine on its own, but the God that all those doctrines are describing. That’s what this book is about. It’s to say, we, we, these truths that we say we believe, they really are thrilling when we really deeply consider them.
You have a really great quote in the first chapter. You said familiarity is the enemy of wonder. You want to talk about that a bit?
Trevin Wax: Well, I think that’s true of life, not just theology. It’s really easy to get bored in a world of wonders that we live in. I mean, you know, there’s always the joke that people that live in the mountains go to the ocean for vacation, and people who live at the beach go to the mountains. And the reason is, is because we, we get so used to the beauties around us that it’s almost like we have to get away and see something else so that when we come home, we see a fresh, our own house, our own yard, the beauty that’s just right there in front of us. It’s almost like we’ve got to change the scenery, so we can really see the scene. And, I think that’s true of life, that we lose our sense of astonishment. You know, everything’s astonishing for a kid. You watch a kid, I mean, I used to joke by our youngest son, we’d go to a restaurant, you know, a chain restaurant or something, and when they bring the chips and salsa to the table or something, I mean, you’d think it was the first time they’d ever seen salsa, you know, just squealing with delight at it, you know?
Trevin Wax: The sad thing about it, about us is that we can, we can lose that sense of gratitude, that sense of wonder, not only with life, but also with theology, with Christianity. You know, we’re supposed to be like children when we come into the kingdom of God. And somehow we think that growing up and getting more mature means we lose that sense of thrill. What if growing up into the Christian faith is becoming more childlike, not childish, but childlike of wanting constantly to recapture that sense of wonder at the beauty of the gospel. And I think I, you know, I think that over familiarity, that sense of losing that awe and wonder at the beauty around us. It’s something that is so easy. There are so many things we take for granted. You know, I, as a former missionary, there are certain things that come to us so easily and that are just, are really marvels, that when I was living elsewhere and didn’t have, you know, easily accessible drinkable water, for example, and things like that. You just don’t even hardly think about here until it’s gone or until something, you know, some crisis happens or until you visit another part of the world where they don’t have the same, you know, the same standard of living. There are all sorts of things like that with life, and I think it’s easy with us as believers who go to church and who read our Bibles and who, you know, want to pray and want to live the Christian life. I think it’s very easy for us to become so familiar with the Christian faith that it doesn’t wow us anymore.
Okay. Okay. Pretty compelling case. If you’d like to hear that entire conversation, good news, we put it on a CD that we would be happy to mail to you, for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Trevin Wax. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who give safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.