The Source of Anger

  • Feb. 22, 2016
  • #8821

We often think anger comes from circumstances outside us, but anger results when we allow sin and pride into our hearts.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and, yes, I can get angry.

And you can, too. You and I would be less than honest if we refuse to confess that there are times when we want to blow off steam. And usually an angry reaction is always provoked; it’s ‘stoked’ by irksome people or irritating circumstances. Like the other day when I had to drive down the 101 Freeway to make an 11:00 a.m. appointment in Burbank. I thought I had given myself plenty of time, but you know Los Angeles traffic. It was ten minutes before 11:00 and I was stuck on the freeway more than ten miles from my destination – KNX News Radio was telling me there was a sofa in the slow lane (and in LA, if it’s not a sofa, it’s a mattress, or a truckload of spilled oranges)! Knowing about the sofa did not help one bit. Tension was beginning to rise and I felt frustrated at my friend who was barely inching along 20 yards behind the vehicle in front of us. “Can’t you go faster?” I tried not to sound harsh, but we both knew that anger was in my voice.  And so, I took a deep breath and just left it in God's hands, where I should have left it all along.

And what I’ve just described probably has happened to you countless times. When we’re angry, it really does feel like hot steam inside a pressure cooker, doesn’t it. We even say that we are filled with anger, or that we are ready to explode. We think of anger as something that is pent up inside of us and every once in awhile we have to blow off steam for relief. And when our anger is spent, then – ah – you feel better, right? But is it right to think of anger as a pressurized emotional fluid inside of us that must vent itself? My friend David Powlison says, “This ‘hydraulic’ way of looking at anger does capture how it feels, but these metaphors do not define what anger is.

The fact is, people do not successfully deal with anger if they punch pillows, knock holes in walls, or take a cold shower. These things won’t make you feel better. That’s because anger is a moral act. It is not blowing off steam as though anger were a “pressurized thing inside of you.” Rather, it’s an expression of who you are when you allow sin to have sway in your life.

If you find yourself mentally cursing a frustrating problem or the people involved, it tells you something about your heart. If you are grumbling, wanting things to go your way, could it reveal pride? Greed? Discontent with God and His control of circumstances? Take my problem on the 101 Freeway. Pride was involved because I was ashamed of showing up late, selfishness was involved because I was discontent with the way my friend was driving. Mistrust was at the root of it all though, for I felt as though God had abandoned us in the traffic. But absolutely none of those things were true.

Basically, I needed to trust that God was in control: of the time, the traffic, and my friend driving. Frankly, God was more interested in confronting my pride and selfishness, rather than my punctuality. And the bottom-line? God is in charge. His sovereign domain even covers Los Angeles traffic jams. Hey, I’d like to share more on this subject, and I do so in a pamphlet called “Anger… Aim It in the Right Direction.” Believe me, it’ll be a help to you, so go to my radio page today at and ask for your free gift of my pamphlet on anger. It’ll help the next time you feel like blowing off steam.

© Joni and Friends


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