Anger eats away at our souls. That's how I see it, at least. When I have that kind of gnawing, won't-go-away anger that prevents me from doing anything well, I feel as if a cancer were devouring my spirit. Have you ever been so angry that your emotion paralyzed you? Have you cried out in anger to God, "Where are you? How could you let this happen?" I've felt that way. So did the writer(s) of several Psalms. Take a moment and read Psalms 6, 13, and 22. There is anger in those Psalms, as well as desperation. If the first verse of Psalm 22 sounds familiar, perhaps it's because Jesus said the very same words as he hung in excruciating pain on the cross. "My God, why have you forsaken me?" he asked. Isolation resonates from the cross.
What can we do? Pray, someone might say, and be correct. However, sometimes people are so angry at God that they don't want to talk to him. It's hard enough at those times just to listen to what he says (See the Bible.). Sometimes I do as the psalmist did, and express my thoughts in writing. I run or shoot a basketball (Note: The basketball idea doesn't work as well unless the ball occasionally drops in the basket). I confide in a trusted friend. Once or twice, I've done my best imitation of the character in Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream." Some people call that a primal scream, and claim that it cleanses the soul. Maybe. What works best for me, however, is singing.
Some hymns express so well what I'm feeling in those moments of darkness. "While on the sea, hear the terrible roaring. See how the boat of my life rolls me. In fear of death, and deepest of anguish, Lord, watch my soul as I drift on the sea," begins a hymn from the Ukraine. Those words have been just the right words for me. Martin Luther's hymn, "Out of the Depths," based on Psalm 42, also has provided comfort and strength. I actually met the man who wrote the music for one of my favorites. "Be with Me, Lord, I cannot live without thee," it begins, and the music composed by L.O. Sanderson, a church of Christ preacher, fits T.O. Chisholm's words like a hand in a glove. Those hymns revive hope.
The company of God's people also has kept me going. Some people stop going to church when things go wrong. That's a bad move, somewhat analogous to running away from the hospital while you're having a heart attack. Perhaps you hurt so badly you cannot pray, or fear so intensely that you cannot sing. Let the prayers and songs of believers massage your soul and revive your spirit. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective," wrote the brother of Jesus in the book of James, chapter five.
How do you deal with soul-killing anger, with frustration, with darkness of the soul? Share your ideas, for God's people are a family, and your idea might just rescue another. Do you have a favorite song, a ritual, a reading, a habit that renews your soul in times of darkness?
On a completely different track, if you've read my profile, you know why I wore orange instead of being lost in a sea of green today. The University of Tennessee men's basketball team survived to play again in the NCAA tournament. Go Vols!