What Do We Do With Anger? Walter Brueggemann On The Psalms Of Vengeance
Someone once said that most of the Bible speaks to us, but the Psalms speak for us. Enter the famed Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann:
HT: the Pastors’ Weekly email from ChurchLeaders.com.
Brueggemann proposes there are three things we can do with our anger when something unjust has happened to us:
1. We can act it out – but surely Christians don’t want to do that;
2. We can deny it – but then it comes out somewhere else, perhaps in our family;
3. We can give it to God.
It is that third way which he says is present in the ‘imprecatory Psalms’.
I love Brueggemann’s illustration of the parent who has to deal with two children, where one has been hurt and accuses the other of having caused the injury. The wise parent doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry,” but, “Let me deal with it.”
Yet so often I see options 1 and 2. I see option 1 in the way some Christians support aggressive international policies by their governments. I see option 2 among those Christians who know they need to forgive, but mistakenly think that means denying their anger. Brueggemann is right, it does come out somewhere else. Either they take it out on an innocent party, or on someone who has only wronged them a little. Or they suppress it and it turns into something like depression. (Not that I am saying all depression is caused this way – it isn’t.)
Option 3 is the ‘healthy option’.