Anger can rear its head at any moment. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer and you see your life together slipping away. It is at a time like this that we become aware that anger is always there under the surface. It can be like a beast rattling the bars of its cage trying its hardest to break free so it can roar and strike out and express its frustration at what is happening to us. Many of us are uncomfortable when this beast announces its presence. We try to keep it in its cage. We look for ways to control it. We may feel guilty about this beast. We may try to hide its presence.
Recently a family member of a cancer patient said to me, “Can I ask you a question? How do you lay aside the anger you have in your heart? How do you move on and leave your anger behind you?” As I weighed her question I wondered if she felt guilty for having these feelings. I wondered if she felt she wasn’t being a good Christian and should have resolved this issue by now and become more accepting of her situation. So I decided that I wanted to talk with her about the presence of anger in the heart of God’s people. I shared with her some of the story of Job where Job freely expressed his anger at the answers his friends gave him to explain why his troubles had happened to him. I also talked about his anger at God for remaining silent and not responding to his demands for an audience so he could present his questions. Not only did this allow him to express his feelings and questions. It also led him to a point where God could then ask Job some questions which opened his mind to other perspectives.
My hope in talking with this lady was to help her to not move away from her anger but to engage with her anger and use it as a springboard to move into some deeper understandings of her life. If her loved one had cancer and might not survive her disease what were the two of them going to do with the time that remained to them? What did they want to celebrate about their lives together? What wrongs might have been done that they would like to find forgiveness for so wounds could be healed? In this way I hoped she might see that her anger was a way for her to pause, to reflect, to go deeper into what her heart was feeling and seeking.
For all of you reading this blog my hope is that you too will not be intimidated by the beast that may reside within your heart. Let it out of its cage. Follow it to the other questions you might have about the meaning of life. See what else we may need to know about who we are and what we might being led to do.