“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Have you ever had something done to you that made you mad and you stayed mad for a good long while? It was bad enough that you just stewed over it…for days…weeks even? Or maybe flip that situation around: Have you ever done something that made someone else mad and they stayed mad at you for a long time? Have you ever felt like this other person was God? It’s awful living with someone who’s made at you. Fortunately, anger has a shelf life. Let me explain what I mean.
Human emotions are what they are. The God revealed in the pages of Scripture is an emotional God and as beings created in His image, we are too. Emotions are simply natural responses to environmental stimuli whether external or internal. When they are in balance and healthy, they are generally appropriate to those stimuli (emotions can be out of balance or unhealthy for a variety of reasons, but that’s a separate conversation). Something good makes us happy. Something bad makes us sad. When things don’t meet our expectations we experience frustration. When something happens we haven’t experienced before we feel nervous or confused.
The thing is, each emotion has a certain stimuli that is its primary natural cause. But, not all stimuli are the same. Some stimuli are good, some are not. This latter kind is most often the result of sin in some form or fashion. It could be sin that is external to us, or it could be sin that is internal (the general difference between the most common causes of frustration—pride—and anger—injustice—for example), but either way, sin is the primary culprit.
Understanding that, think about this in the context of the bigger picture. Eventually Jesus is going to return to claim His kingdom. When He does, that’s going to mark the time for the final judgment of this world and the final destruction of all sin. Well, if sin is the primary culprit behind some of the emotions we experience, and sin is eventually going to be gone for good, that means that some of the emotions we experience as natural now aren’t really natural at all. They are in this world—they are in us—as a result of sin. When sin is gone, so will they be. They have a shelf life.
Anger is one of this group of emotions. Anger is a natural response to the perception of injustice. We can sort out later whether or not the perception corresponds with reality, but that’s what anger is either way. When there is no more injustice and our perceptions always match reality, anger will be gone.
Let that sit on you for a minute. Eventually, anger is going to be gone from the world entirely. And, the time span of when it will be gone will be much, much longer than the time span it has been present. Like, eternally so. Anger is only ever for a moment, but the joy of the kingdom of God lasts forever.
Here’s a couple of things this means that may very well be game changers for you. First, all the anger you experience or that you cause is temporary. It may be intense, but it won’t last. It can’t. Move to get rid of the sin with God’s help. Own what you’ve committed and forgive what’s been committed against you and the anger can go. Eventually it won’t be coming back at all.
Second, and maybe more important for you, God is not primarily an angry God. Too many folks live their lives with the constant perception that God is angry. He’s not. He does get angry, but He doesn’t stay there. His anger is always situationally specific and love is His natural state. Even when He gets angry—and His anger is always appropriate and measured to whatever the situation happens to be—it is wrapped in a covering of love. And, when sin goes, so will His anger. Forever.
God’s not angry. And even when He gets angry, He’s not going to stay angry. Anger in our lives—whether ours or somebody else’s—has a shelf life. Let’s go ahead and starting living like that shelf life is already here.