“We all have firsthand experience with anger gone wrong. We’ve dished it out. We’ve been on the receiving end. We’ve heard and seen others get angry at each other. At some point in each day you are probably affected by some form of anger gone bad – either your own or someone’s else’s.”
It’s seems everywhere we turn nowadays ‘anger’ has become acceptable, perhaps even trendy and often expected.
We see anger on talk shows and newscasts, TV shows script outrage and antics as entertainment, politics is saturated in anger and simply posting on social media can be a catalyst to a verbal blow torching at someone’s fingertips.
With the constant influx it can be difficult to sort out what is wrong anger and what is righteous anger.
“In the way we do anger, some of us explode, some of us simmer, some of us seem dormant – but all of us experience anger. And if we don’t it’s because we’ve anesthetized ourselves or detached.”
Good & Angry is broken into four sections. At the end of each chapter in each section is a series of questions called Making It Your Own.
The first section begins to clarify anger and exhorts the reader to examine their own hearts when it comes to anger.
“To tease out the motives underlying anger, ask, “What are my expectations?”
Section two, the longest section of the book, defines anger. In this section Dr. Powlison asks a lot of what, how and why questions to increasingly orientate the reader where anger can be confusing. After having clarified when anger goes bad, he begins to dig into how anger can become good anger or what he refers to as ‘the constructive displeasure of mercy’. This is where we being to study and understand God’s love and God’s wrath, His righteous anger.
“His mercy is not niceness. His mercy is not blanket acceptance of any and all. Mercy to us costs Him – the blood of the Lamb. And mercy comes to us at the cost of our sins and pride. His kindness is an open invitation to turn to Him in repentance and faith, to come to him in our need for mercies freely offered, and our trust in mercies freely given. But a hard, impenitent heart rejects the offer, goes its own way, and will experience the fair consequences.”
Section three brings together what has been taught and practically applies it to the process of change.
Part of this process is working through eight questions presented to the reader:
1. What is my situation?
2. How do I react?
3. What are my motives?
4. What are the consequences?
5. What is true?
6. How do I turn to God for help?
7. How could I respond constructively in this situation?
8. What are the consequences of faith and obedience?
“Angry people always talk to the wrong person. They talk to themselves, rehearsing failures of others. They talk to the people they’re mad at, reaming them out for real or imaginary failings. They talk to people who aren’t involved, gossiping and slandering. But chaotic, sinful, headstrong anger starts to dissolve when you begin to talk to the right person – to your Good Shepherd, who sees, hears, and is mercifully involved in your life.”
And lastly, section four, is where Dr. Powlison offers insight into what he calls the ‘hard cases’. Those instances where we know we will never get over a wrong done to us, everyday irritants where we find ourselves consistently grumbling and complaining, the issue of being angry at ourselves and anger at God.
“Anger at God is wrong.”
Good & Angry would be a helpful addition to our counseling shelves in the understanding of anger. It would be a profitable suggestion for couples to read during premarital counseling provided the counselor offered specific examples of how to walk through interpersonal conflicts in a godly manner.
I would caution that when we seek to understand anger, or any area of life for that matter, that we do so with God and His Word as our touchstone, as our foundation and not with man and his experiences foremost.
God is immutable contrary to our experiences and emotions. Our experiences and emotions are indications of circumstances, not necessarily proclamations of truth. The distinction is significant and necessary to be kept in mind.
“The final word is that anger is going somewhere. It will someday be perfected. Then it will be swallowed up in joy.”
Purchase Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining And Bitterness by David Powlison