Be angry, but don’t let the sun go down on it.
FEBRUARY 27, 2023
Be angry, but don’t let the sun go down on it. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is all about God’s radical grace. Grace that has dirt under its fingernails and laugh lines on its face. If you want the Bible to be a book of rules, you may want to stop listening now, but if you’re hungry for the truth, that’ll make you free. Welcome to Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. And I hope you guys had a great week-end. And I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re spending, we’re taking a break from the study of the Book of Acts to study another book, one that I wrote. But you need to know that this book that I wrote is a book anchored in Biblical doctrine, revealed propositional truth. So, we’re still studying the Bible, just doing it in a little different way. The name of the book, by the way, is called Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And we’re looking at some surprising things, like the surprising laughter and lament of God. And then we’re following up on some other themes in the book. Life is hard and then you die. Now that’s positive. Life is hard then you get angry. And that’s what we’re talking about during this week and probably the next week or two. Life is hard and you’ve got to face that. This is not for sissies. And God recognized that, gave us the words to deal with it in Scripture and even permits anger. But before we get into that, let’s pray. Father, sometimes we come into your presence phony. We pretend things that aren’t true. We say things we don’t believe. And we tell you about our lives when it’s not true. Forgive us because you have told us that when we stand here, you know our thoughts, you know our actions, you know our needs before we express them. And so, Father, keep us honest, if nowhere else, at least here in your presence. Father, as we come into your presence, we come some of us with great pain and some of us with great joy, and we rest in the anchor that you are in charge and sovereign over all of it, and you are good all the time. We praise you for that. And if you had not been good all the time, you’re still big. You’re still God. You’re still the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that is. And you are worthy of our worship and we give our worship to you. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins cause they are many. We would see Jesus and Him only, and we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Well, as I said, we’re looking at this book that I wrote and I’m going over some of the major themes in that book and adding some themes that are not even in the book. And we’re up to a chapter that is, Life is Hard and then You Get Angry. And you say, no, you don’t, that’s not Christian. Recently we interviewed my good friend Brant Hansen on his book on anger, and he said that anger is never appropriate for a Christian. And he’s right, but anger is always present in the life of a Christian, and God gives us permission to express that anger. I answered a letter from a woman whose husband had committed suicide. And I’ve done a lot of that. In fact, I’ve cleaned up after more suicides than you would believe over the last years. And she was talking about how wonderful he was. She was saying he was such a good provider. She was saying he was such a good father and he was such a wonderful gentleman. And I said, no, he wasn’t, he killed himself. And you say, that’s a harsh thing to say. No, it wasn’t. It was an important thing to say for her health. She needed to face the reality of who her husband was and what he had done and what had happened to her and to her children as a result of that. I’ve often said at funerals of suicides, and I’ve done a lot of them. If Sam or Judy were here today, I would cuss and spit at them for what they’ve done. And people are always shocked when I say that, they shouldn’t be because anger is a normal part of the lament, and if there is no anger, there honestly is no lament. It says, this isn’t what it’s supposed to be and I don’t like it one bit. C.S. Lewis, in his book, A Grief Observed, a wonderful book, after his wife Joy died. He kept in little blue books a kind of a diary of what he was going through. And then a publisher published it under a pseudonym and his son told me, and I love this story, his son told me that his friends knew what a hard time he was going through. And when that book came out, many of his friends gave it to Lewis as a gift, not realizing that he was the one who wrote it. It’s an honest book, and it’s a profound book in many ways. It’s titled A Grief Observed and somebody thanked Lewis for having the courage to yell, to doubt, to kick at God in angry violence. This is a part of a healthy grief, which is not often discouraged. The famous Swiss American psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, among others, pointed out the importance of anger in moving forward through grief. It’s called Grief Work and the steps are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, hope, and acceptance. And we’ll see later how those patterns are a part of lament and the freedom that comes from it. But for now, let’s consider the significance of anger and how important it is for the laughter and freedom that Christians should experience. Have you ever thought that anger should be expressed over things that should make us angry? I’m not one to criticize a fellow pastor, but I do wish Joel Osteen would stop smiling all the time. He often talks about the personal problems we all face, and he says some good things. And if he would just cuss and spit instead of smiling, I would feel better about it. A friend of mine who knows him said one time he was in the hospital and his friend came to visit and said to him, Joel, I wish you’d stop smiling. And he said, I can’t help it. It’s the nature of my face, it looks like a smile all the time. So, when I say even horrible things and even when I’m angry, I seem like I’m smiling. Well, I’ll give him a pass on that, but I do wish he wouldn’t smile all the time, I’d feel better about him. Spurgeon told his students one time that when they preached on heaven, their faces should be radiant, but when they preached on hell, their normal expression would be sufficient. Somewhere we have gotten the idea that smiling is a Christian virtue, and I suppose sometimes it is, but when your mother dies and you’ve got a smile on your face, you’re either crazy or you know that your inheritance will be incredibly large or maybe you didn’t like your mother that much anyway. In the face of what I described in the last few teachings from this book, hatred, abuse, death, sin, racism, division, pain, etcetera, the appropriate response sometimes normal for normal people is anger. Now, you may have to repent later, but it’s a normal response. And not just self-righteous anger, but anger that defines the reality of the dark and knows that something is wrong, that something is bent. The truth is that anger is a normal part of the Christian life. Paul said in, and it’s an amazing statement in Ephesians, he says.
Be angry, but don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
In other words, the apostle Paul is recognizing a reality of the lament of Christians, and the lament of Christians includes anger. That is one of the steps you have to take on your way to freedom and joy. And so, with Paul, be angry, but don’t let the sun go down on it. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown continuing our exploration of the Biblical truth that serves as the foundation of his latest book, Laughter and Lament. And today we learned that anger has a place in the process of us learning how to truly lament. Not a place where we want to live, but a place we must sometimes visit. More on this tomorrow, do hope you’ll join us for that. Well, to state the obvious, we’re very excited about Steve’s book. In fact, to celebrate it, we did a special episode of Steve Brown Etc. several months ago. It was, kind of a big deal, the first episode we’ve ever recorded live in front of a studio audience. So much fun. But listen, don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself. We put the whole episode on CD and if it’s okay with you, we’ll send it to you, for free. Claim your copy right now by calling us 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. Just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament episode of Steve Brown Etc. And finally, a question for you, have you ever considered partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is pretty easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card, or you can include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now gift 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 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.