Anger And Revenge

No. 30 - 05th March 2017

I was at the Meads surgery once, back in the days when you could just turn up in the morning without an appointment and wait your turn to be seen by a doctor. I suddenly became aware that something was going on at reception where a couple with a small child were shouting at the receptionist because they wanted their sick child to be seen to right now. In a sense I could understand their anger, but what I couldn’t understand was why they should take it out on the receptionist. It wasn’t her fault that they couldn’t see a doctor straight away. There was a system in place which tried to be fair to everyone, but she still caught the flack and I felt really sorry for her.

I once worked with someone who I thought was a rather angry person, until one day I discovered that some times he would just switch the anger on as a way of getting what he wanted, and then switch it off again as soon as he’d succeeded. The question is, are we right to hurt other people like that, just to get our own way. I think not.

I’ve talked before about my wife’s disability. She’s got MS, which means that she’s very restricted in what she can do. There were times when I used to get quite angry because it was putting a lot of restrictions on my life and what I wanted to do. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? It meant that she had to put up with the disease itself, as well as my anger, which seems most unfair.

The thing about each of these situations is that they all have the same root. It’s basically a desire to punish someone else because I can’t have what I want. It’s not a pretty sight and it’s not usually fair on the victim. I suppose that’s why God asks us to leave the vengeance to him, because he will make sure that justice is done one way or another. He doesn’t say we can’t be angry. Just that in our anger we don’t take the law into our own hands and become equally guilty. In a situation like this, God is completely impartial and objective. He’ll judge each situation on its own merits. However, it’s worth remembering that if I as the victim respond angrily in return and take my own vengeance, then suddenly, I’m no longer the victim. I’ve also become the aggressor and just as likely to be judged. That’s the thing about God. He has no favourites. His justice is unswerving, but smothered in mercy.

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