There’s a blood boiling in my veins.
I’m a poor, wand’ring sinner in need of grace.
I’ve got unrighteous anger, I’ve got pride,
I’ve got too much to prove before I die.
O my soul, will you find no relief?
Come and lay your vengeance down at mercy’s seat.
But I’m bound by the fear that I’ll be found:
All along I’ve been a liar and a fraud.
O my God, how do I stand today,
A woman by pride and temper stained?
I’ve no joy woven in my bones,
Wasn’t born with light or love within my soul.
As I follow my Lord to Calvary,
I look up and see my fury on that tree.
Oh, my righteous Savior died for me.
Slow to anger, rich in love is He.
It’s a hard road from cradle to the grave,
But my trust is in the Lamb who was slain,
Who bore the world’s rage that He might save
All poor sinners who humbly call His name.
I penned these words as a confession of my struggle with anger, and as a word of remembrance for what I should do about it. Some people become sad or depressed when they are hurt, but I immediately become angry whenever I feel slighted. One day in particular I became so frustrated about my inability to overcome my anger towards someone who had mistreated me and had left the church and biblical faith. I had been trying to get over the recurring disappointment with them for a few years when I finally realized that there was nothing in my nature, no virtue or strength of my own, that could deal with this. My ultimate mistake was thinking that I could simply choose to forgive and then all bitterness would just go away on its own. No matter how much I made resolutions of forgiveness, the bitter root would thrust up its ugly fruit in my sarcastic words.
I’m beginning to realize that God allows me to experience such frustration so that I will see the depths of my darkness and my need for Him. Before I harbored this resentment I may have been deceived into thinking that I was essentially a kind and forgiving person, rather than a sinner who desperately needs to be forgiven. I also may have prided myself in my faith, thinking myself intelligent and wise for choosing Christ, rather than a person who was graciously and undeservedly offered the free gift of salvation. Facing the fact of my bitterness showed me who I really am.
But what am I to do about my anger? It was a mistake to think that getting over bitterness was a one-time deal. I find that very seldom do our sins evaporate after one confession; rather, they must be fought continually whenever they attempt to creep back into our hearts. Bitter thoughts are kept at bay through the habit of resisting them and immediately clinging to the truth of God’s Word. If I give in to a sarcastic or biting tone when talking about my feelings, even when talking to those closest to me, I am only feeding the fire of resentment.
When I am tempted to pity myself because of what I lack, I must remind myself that Christ’s body, the church, is my ultimate place of relationship, of mentorship and companionship, and in him and his church I find all I need. When I am tempted to indulge in mocking the person who mistreated me, I must remind myself that I have mistreated the risen Lord, and yet he has forgiven me. When I am tempted to be angry at a person’s lack of care and concern, I must remember that all goodness comes from God alone and I am only ever able to show proper care and concern for others because his grace enables me.
The pivotal moment of this song occurs with the words, “As I follow my Lord to Calvary, I look up and see my fury on that tree. Oh, my righteous Savior died for me. Slow to anger, rich in love is He.” The disarming nature of the crucifixion stops my anger in its tracks. Here is a God who had every reason to be angry with us and punish us for how our anger and pride has torn apart his world, and yet he takes that wrath upon himself. What reason have I to be angry when the God-man humbly received such mockery, humiliation and pain so that we could be reconciled to him? When humanity has so deeply rejected God and yet he extends such relentless love to us, who am I to hold anything over anyone? This truth steals away my pride. If I perpetually live in the knowledge that I am forgiven, I am only left in awe of my Savior, “who bore the world’s rage that He might save all poor sinners who humbly call His name.”