Back to Top

Seeing Red

Blame it on the red hair, but I get angry about a lot of things. I’m angry about the apathy I see around me about the deep wounds of this world. I’m furious at certain politicians for squelching democratic debate around issues and for making decisions based only on the economic bottom line without consideration of social and environmental impacts. I’m angry about all manifestations of the prosperity gospel because it teaches the poor that they’re impoverished because they’re not good enough or God doesn’t love them enough. I’m angry at myself for acting like I care about all of this, but all too often failing to follow through.

A few months ago I was really rip-roaring angry about something. Some friends and I had been walking with a dear friend of ours through the pain of losing her sight. It was hard on her to not be able to drive, do her crafts, or read her Bible anymore. She had been to many prayer meetings where she was promised healing by some purported Christian superstar, but no healing had come. When we met, she was just coming to a quiet assurance that her eyes would eventually be healed, but that it might be when she comes face-to-face with her Saviour in the New Jerusalem and not before. Her quiet, long-suffering faith was inspiring. Then she met a Christian leader who promised her that if she recited a certain prayer every morning and had faith, she would certainly be healed and would be able to travel the country speaking about Christ the way this Christian leader did. And our friend believed this leader, because of her leadership position. I saw red. She had implied to a 70 year-old woman with macular degeneration that if her eyes were not healed, it was due to her lack of faith and then, as the cherry on top, she had promised that our friend could be just like her. My heart broke for the new suffering this opened our friend up to and my blood boiled.

While talking the situation over with a friend later, the topic of forgiveness came up. Man, sometimes God asks us to do the hardest things. Since then, I’ve been mulling over my anger and trying to understand what it means that the God who flipped the money tables in the temple also commands us not to let the sun go down on our anger. I’m learning that my anger makes me carry a lot of bitterness, and that bitterness comes out when I don’t intend it to, sometimes at the very moment that I most need to be patient, gentle, and humble when speaking about something I care about with someone who doesn’t share my views. So one afternoon, I decided to pray for this leader. I decided to pray not that her way of doing ministry would change, because that would be a self-serving prayer, but that she would flourish. I tried to pray for her the way I would pray for a dear friend. And something happened—I began to see her as more than someone I disagreed with. Those prayers stole my bitterness from me and replaced it with something almost like tenderness. I’m still surprised by it as I write this post. What she did still isn’t ok. And if I get a chance to speak up against the theology that led to her actions, I will. But my anger at her is no longer a foothold for the Devil to reach up and pluck the fruits of patience, gentleness, and humility from me.

There were times when Jesus was saddened by the brokenness He saw, and times when He was infuriated by it. I’m still figuring out when it’s time to cry over the city of Jerusalem and when it’s time to flip the money tables. But I have learned that prayer is stronger than anger.

So here’s an idea for action: pray for that person whose views make your blood boil, and watch as God transforms them from enemy back into a brother or sister.   

Maybe I should try praying for those politicians.

[Image: Flickr user Psycho Delia]


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.