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Posts Tagged ‘anger’

The Christmas music was playing softly in the background as I walked into our local supermarket one day this past week. The store wasn’t too crowded and the lights were dimmed, to make things more pleasant for everyone. I sighed with relief. How lovely to be able to shop in relative peace and quiet, without so much noise and hassle! And how lovely it had been too, to see the shopping centre’s large nativity scene on display again, just near the supermarket entrance! Such a special reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

But then came the rude awakening. Nearby in the fruit section, a man erupted in anger.

At first, I could not work out what was happening. He was standing all by himself, so it was not as if he was angry with another customer or a staff member. Then I caught the words he was spitting out with great venom.

‘Aagh! Stupid, b… bags! What the …?’

On and on the tirade went. Then he threw the offending plastic bag he could not manage to open onto the bananas he had been buying and stormed off, banana-less.

This scenario had nothing to do with me. Yet I found myself still thinking about it as I continued shopping. Yes, I know those silly plastic bags can be annoyingly hard to open. There is an art to it. And often patience is required—something this man obviously did not have at that point. But … what could have caused him to rant like that over such a relatively small thing? Perhaps he had huge issues happening in his life that felt overwhelming, I decided—perhaps the difficulty with the plastic bag was merely the last straw. I prayed then that he would calm down, wherever he had got to, and somehow find God’s peace.

I know in my own life I can become very stressed about little things that don’t really matter. I too can become angry and do and say things I would not normally do or say. But later, when I have calmed down and begun to feel ashamed of how I acted, I take a moment to sit and talk with God. Then I wait until I sense God’s wonderful forgiveness and grace flood over me again, that grace that lifts any shame off me and assures me I am still loved so much—and will be forever. What a privilege to experience this amazing love of God and to be at peace again, knowing God will always welcome me home with open arms!

This is the true peace God offers each of us—including that angry man in the supermarket. Yes, we will have troubles, as Jesus himself told his disciples (John 17:33). But Jesus, in coming to earth, has offered us all a way to be at peace with God again—and to live in peace with others too.

This Christmas, may you know that everlasting peace only God can give, whatever is happening in your life. And may you see in the baby in the manger, God’s deep, eternal love for you and experience that love afresh this Christmas.

And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6b

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Jo 17I love it when someone tells me about an event in their lives that they can now honestly laugh about, even though this event may have caused them pain and difficulty at the time. It is as if they have chosen to step through a doorway into a place of much greater freedom and joy and light, rather than remain stuck in some dark cell, enmeshed in anger and bitterness and confusion.

Recently I was privileged to hear one such story from a lovely friend of mine from Korea, Sung Sook. How special it was to laugh with her as she shared something that happened to her during a trip home to Korea at Christmas to see her aging father and other family members. But it was even more special to sense the freedom she now feels about it all and to share in her joy that she was able to respond with such godly wisdom and strength.

While in Korea, Sung Sook and her extended family discovered something about her aging father that caused a great difference of opinion among them, because it had to do with honouring the memory of her mother, who passed away some time ago. Now my friend has six aunties in Korea—surely a formidable force to contend with anywhere—who were all very angry with her father. So what was she to do? She loved her mother, despite being unable to get home to see her often—but she also loves her eighty-six-year-old father and wants his latter years to be as pleasant as possible. How could she honour and respect her father’s wishes but also honour and listen to her aunties?

In the end, she took her father’s side and talked firmly to her aunties, one by one, urging them to leave him alone and not be angry with him. As his daughter, she reminded them she is his closest relative—so they needed to abide by her decision, as well as his. She handled it bravely and well, I believe. But she went even further.

You see, when Sung Sook arrived back here in Australia, she bought a large tin of honey for each aunty and posted it to them as a gift. Now honey is expensive enough in itself—but the postage cost even more! Yes, there is honey in Korea, but it is apparently not as thick as ours, so this was a precious gift to send them. As a result, they were all delighted—and their difference of opinion was swept under the carpet and forgotten!

‘So … honey fixes everything!’ Sung Sook told me, laughing. ‘It is “supernatural food”!’

It is indeed, don’t you think? To me, it symbolises a sweet response that went far beyond our natural inclination to argue and defend and hold a grudge, speaking instead of the supernatural response of forbearance, of forgiveness in God’s strength and of peace-making. This is in fact how we are all called to live:

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Perhaps all of us could consider sharing that ‘supernatural food’ around a little more. Then we might see that such honey truly does fix everything!

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of driving a good friend to the airport.  She was returning to Turkey to work that she loves, and the strong possibility is that her friends and family will not see her for another two years or more.  It was a bittersweet moment when the time came for all of us who had gathered there to say goodbye – our friend’s heart is in Turkey, but it is also here with family and friends.

As soon as she disappeared through the entrance to the customs check area, our by now slightly teary group dispersed.  However, a few of us decided to stay on and move to a spot alongside a glass wall where passengers can be seen as they pass through a walkway leading to their respective departure gates.  And almost before we had settled ourselves, there she was again, smiling at us and waving, then turning for one final backward glance before disappearing from view.  We tried to communicate with her in various ways, blowing kisses and gesticulating wildly. I noticed too how other passengers were coming right up to the glass and placing their hands on it in an effort to reach out to those on the other side one more time.  We were glad we had stayed for this final farewell – but it wasn’t the same as being able to communicate freely, to speak and touch unhindered by the barrier between us.

As I thought about this experience later, I realised that sometimes this is how it is between God and me.  God is always there, wanting to communicate and have a close relationship with me, but sometimes these barriers spring up between us – barriers that I either deliberately put in place or just allow over time to grow bigger and bigger.  I want to talk things over with God heart to heart – and I truly want God to speak to me ‘face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’, as occurred with Moses (Exodus 33:11).  I want God to be intimately involved with all areas of my life – but for some crazy reason I distance myself behind some barrier or another. It might be that I don’t want to let go of something I know is spoiling that communication – perhaps anger or unforgiveness or even lack of trust. Or it might be that I just allow myself to become too busy or too tired or too focused on my writing or too concerned about preparing for speaking engagements, until that loving voice gets more and more indistinct and that wonderful light of God’s presence dims.  I know God is there as surely as my friend was there smiling at us from behind that glass wall – but I can’t hear what is being said or feel that restoring, encouraging, comforting touch that I know I need.

I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to be alienated behind an impenetrable glass wall from the very one who breathes life and creativity and courage and strength into my spirit. There is a door in that wall, I believe – and Jesus is standing there.  He knocks on it, waiting for each one of us to open it and invite him in so we can relate deeply with him (Rev 3:20).

Is he there with you now, enjoying your company?

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