“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19, NIV 1984).
My oncology fellow was amazed at my patience as Mr. Donohue’s daughter railed at me for 20 minutes over her perception of our care for her father. We had managed him very well, with compassion and according to all the best guidelines, but he was not doing well. The daughter was from out of town and not in control and felt his poor outcome was partly my fault. When the conversation ended and we left the room, I told my fellow, “There is no way to deal with that kind of anger other than to let it hit you and roll off. All you can really do is tell the facts with kindness and show you care.”
Most of us have dealt with an angry patient or angry patient family. All of us have dealt with someone who has directed their anger at us, deserved or undeserved. How we take that anger reflects or fails to reflect the grace of the Cross.
What we may not have addressed and might not have managed well is our own anger. Jesus was one of the very few who could do anger well, and He let it out only in defense of others, never Himself. My anger is different. My anger has always been all about me. My anger has always reflected my nature and not Jesus. My anger has always produced hurt and not redemption. I personally have never lashed out in anger without regretting it.
Even if we deserve to strike out, holding our anger in for Jesus’ sake is a good way to carry our cross, to take upon ourselves an undeserved suffering so that Christ may be glorified. Sort of like our own small road to Golgotha.
When I am tempted to be angry, focus my vision on His cross.