A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. –Proverbs 29:11
On May 18th, 1980, Mt. St. Helen’s volcano erupted, becoming one of the most deadly and destructive volcanoes in U.S. history. The eruption shook the mountain until its northern side crumbled and 230 square miles of forest were knocked down in five minutes. The eruption lasted nine hours, turning day into night with a thick, black cloud of ash that fell over eastern Washington. In total, 57 deaths were attributed to the eruption, as well as hundreds of miles of destroyed or damaged forest, home and land.
Have you ever been so angry that you felt like a volcano? Bitterness, anger and resentment built until you just couldn’t take it anymore and it suddenly exploded, leaving a path of destruction in its way? Sometimes it begins as an expectation not being met — regardless of whether it was reasonable. At other times, it might be a hurtful thing that was done or said to you that leaves you feeling hurt and angry. Without dealing with anger, it can build and grow, playing out either by isolating, pouting, or taking it out on someone else. Oftentimes, the anger and hurt can get so deep, we’re not even sure how it started in the first place.
Then, finally you can’t take it anymore! The anger bubbles and boils until we snap, saying or doing something we shouldn’t. In the end, we are left apologizing, feeling guilty and depressed over something that could have been avoided.
The proverbs found in the Old Testament liken volcanic anger to a fool. It results in out-of-control behavior, causes destruction and needs repair to fix the mess left in its wake. But, a wise person keeps himself or herself under control, dealing with anger constructively. This doesn’t mean that people allow themselves to be taken advantage of; it means they check themselves. Wise people look at the hurt, evaluating both their own role and the other person’s involvement in the hurt. Perhaps they talk to the other person. Wise people forgive. They repent of their part and ask for forgiveness, while forgiving those by whom they were wronged. The wise person realizes that it makes no sense to try to remove the speck from a brother’s eye before removing the plank from one’s own.
1. Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you where in your life you have been harboring bitterness, hurt, or anger.
2. How have you contributed to the bitterness or anger? What can you do to seek forgiveness for your part?
Proverbs 30:33; Romans 2:1-3; Ephesians 4:26