Anger is, of course, neither a new condition nor limited to driving. Everyone has experienced how a minor nuisance can easily grow into an irritation, then an annoyance, and finally cause us to erupt in fury. When that happens, the consequences are not usually very happy for us or for those around us.
There is an interesting example in the Bible of a man who lost a lot through anger. After Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were forced to survive for years in the wilderness. On one occasion when they were desperately in need of water, God instructed Moses to speak to a rock, promising him that water would come out. However, Moses had lost patience with the people’s incessant complaining, despite all the miracles God had already done to protect and supply for them, so instead of simply saying the words that he had been instructed to, Moses struck the rock in frustration. Water came gushing out, as God had said it would, and everyone’s thirst was quenched. However, this display of temper cost Moses dearly. God told him, “Because you did not believe Me”—Moses’ impatience showed that he didn’t believe things would work out if he simply did what God had told him to do—“therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”2 In the end, Moses was only allowed to see the Promised Land from a nearby mountaintop before he died. As Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Our anger and impatience often prove much more mischievous than the things about which we are angry or impatient.” Besides the strain on our relationships with others, medical research shows that negative emotions can damage our blood vessels, increase the likelihood of heart attacks, and reduce our resistance to infections, among other problems.
The good news is that we don’t have to keep traveling on the rage route. Peace of mind is within our reach if we will only pause, pray, and remain positive.
Reflections on the route back from rage
1. Pause and put things in perspective.
We’ve all experienced the feeling of being rejected or hurt by someone’s words or actions. Depending on how close you are to that person, there are varying degrees of how painful it is or how much it affects you. When it’s a pretty serious hurt, it’s often hard to think rationally. It’s natural to become hardened or bitter or resentful, or to be overwhelmingly discouraged or despondent, or to get angry with the person, or to retaliate. The problem is, because you’re hurt, you often don’t have a very clear perspective on the situation, yet the way you handle it at the time has a great bearing on the long-term outcome.—Maria Fontaine
When you have been pushed to the point that you’re about to scream, step back from the situation for a few minutes. Breathe deeply. Try to see things in perspective. Then face the world again.—Mottos for Success
Put time into proper perspective. Every difficult experience you may be dealing with now, circumstances that tend to make you angry and bitter, will in time pass away.—Jim Henry
The greatest remedy for anger is delay.—Seneca the Younger
2. Ask God for help.
At the end of every day, take stock. If anger or any other negative emotion is in your heart, ask God to take it away. He will.—Mottos for Success
It’s important not to let your heart become closed off to others, or closed off to life, but rather to give your cares to Jesus.3 Tell Him all about them. Unburden your heart. Let Him carry the load—the problems, the sins, the mistakes of others, everything. You can’t walk around with the weight of the world on your shoulders. You have to give it all to Jesus and ask Him to help you to overcome your natural, negative reactions to negative circumstances. Once you do that, He will heal your heart and strengthen your spirit.—David Brandt Berg
Do you sometimes feel that you are in a deep hole? And what’s more, do you feel that somebody just keeps throwing dirt on you? You can turn the bad to good by looking up and seeing that Jesus is there through it all. Take His hand. Ask Him to pull you up and to help you see His purpose in it all. He can help you see the events around you from His perspective. He can give you His calm and stop the panic. And then He can help you find solutions that will enable you to step triumphantly out of that deep well and onto the path of a brighter tomorrow.—Chloe West
Relax and let go of everything as you enter into God’s presence. You can relax and let go of everything, precisely because God is present. In His presence nothing [else] really matters; all things are in His hands. Tension, anxiety, worry,frustration all melt away before Him, as snow before the sun.—James Borst
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.—Isaiah 26:3
3. Make an effort to adopt a positive thought pattern.
May I forget what ought to be forgotten; and recall, unfailing, all that ought to be recalled, each kindly thing, forgetting what might sting.—Mary Carolyn Davies
When I forgive, I am not to carry any bullets forward on the journey. I am to empty out all my explosives, all my ammunition of anger and revenge. I am not to “bear any grudge.”4
I cannot meet this demand. It is altogether beyond me. I might utter words of forgiveness, but I cannot reveal a clear, bright, blue sky without a touch of storm brewing anywhere.
But the Lord of grace can do it for me. He can change my weather. He can create a new climate. He can “renew a right spirit within me,”5 and in that new atmosphere nothing shall live which seeks to poison and destroy. Grudges shall die and revenge shall give place to goodwill, the strong genial presence which makes its home in the new heart.—J. H. Jowett
The battlefield is the mind. The Bible says, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”6 People who emphasize positive thinking or the power of the mind can go a long way with that, but they won’t go as far as they could unless they also ask God to change them within through His miracle-working power. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”7 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”8—Maria Fontaine
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:31–32
4. Turn good thoughts into good actions.
There is a strong connection between thinking the right thoughts and doing the right things. You must act on the victory, live the victory, and let the change be manifested in your actions, not just your thoughts. If you’ve prayed against anger, for example, then you have to accept the victory by not only entertaining positive thoughts, but also by acting on those thoughts. Even if it would have been impossible to do such things before, if you’ll exercise your faith by trying, you’ll see Jesus come through for you. What you weren’t able to do before will be possible, because He will have changed you. As you do what He shows you day by day to live your victory, you’ll see it manifested more and more in your reactions, actions, and daily life.
Positive thoughts are not enough. They must become action. They must translate into positive deeds. As you combine your new thought patterns and reactions with behavior that reflects the victory Jesus has given you, you will go from strength to strength.—Maria Fontaine
If you know all this, blessed are you if you act accordingly.—John 13:17 WEY
1. Nahum 2:4
2. Numbers 20:7–8,10–12; Psalm 106:32
3. 1 Peter 5:7
4. Leviticus 19:17–18
5. Psalm 51:10
6. Proverbs 23:7
7. Romans 12:2
8. 2 Corinthians 5:17