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Unresolved Anger

Theme: Family of Origin Hurt

Sunday we talked about family of origin hurt. The hurt we experience from the family we were raised in. And if left unresolved, this hurt becomes a pathway from the past to the present. So how does this play out in real life?

Well, we can all agree that we live in an angry world, right? Anger turned inward leads to depression, anger turned outward leads to violence. Either direction, when anger is unresolved, it opens a pathway to sin. It's likely why Paul wrote, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry"(Ephesians 4:26).

The danger with anger is when the sun goes down on it too many times, people forget where the anger came from. And then people don’t know how to resolve it is because they don’t know where it came from. They may get a different job, friends, marriage, church, or school but the same problems keep coming up. And the only thing all these different people and places have in common is themselves.

And if you asked them, "Who are you mad at?", "Why are you so angry?", or "Why do you act the way you do?", they would point to someone close. They would say he or she or this change or that change is why I am angry, but the real source is way back when because they never dealt with the anger created by the offense. And the longer it goes unresolved the harder it is to identify. And that is why family of origin hurt can be overwhelming because if the sun sets on it too many times it is hard to locate the source. So what do you do? Counseling doesn't hurt, reflecting and praying helps for sure, but ultimately I think we need more.

The more we need may be developing a forgiving spirit. For example, Joseph was a young man who was hated by his brothers. He was hated because he was the favorite, sibling jealousy. So his brothers sold him into slavery when he was just 17 years old and lied to their dad about it, saying he was killed by wild animals. Once sold into slavery, Joseph rises through the ranks in Egypt, he is discerning and wise we are told. He leads the way in navigating a great famine and saves many lives, the lives of Egyptians and Israelites which is ultimately how he comes into contact with his brothers. He is around 56 years old now, about 40 years later, and there is this amazing moment when Joseph is in power. His brothers come to Egypt for food, and Joseph could have done anything to them he wanted, he could have paid evil for evil, and his brothers know it and they are scared to death.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19-21).

Joseph forgives. Now how did he get to the place where he stopped asking, “How can I get them back?” to asking, “Am I in the place of God?” In other words, how did he get to the place where he did what is so counter intuitive, cancel the debt of family members who obviously owed him a tremendous debt.

I think, over time, he had developed a forgiving spirit. He learned that family of origin hurt can be turned from something bad to something good. It can bring us to the place where forgiveness is not just a decision we make, but a spirit we have. Why? Because it forces us to make a daily decision - forgive beforehand. So when the hurt does come, we forgive immediately and completely. It just becomes who we are. So how do we do that?

Today's scripture and prayer are a start. They are good to say every morning, before you start your day. If you struggle with unresolved anger, I would encourage you to say and pray these out loud for three weeks to start developing a forgiving spirit.


Scripture: Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Prayer: Beforhand

"Father, Joseph asked, "Am I in the place of God?" Before I start my day, by faith, right now, I acknowledge you are God and I am not. Father, you forgave me beforehand so before the day begins, anyone who will hurt me is forgiven. I cancel the debt. I refuse to build my case against them. I live in Your realm of forgiveness so they do as well. They owe me nothing. Please allow the hurt I may experience today from people who have been hurt in the yesterdays be reminders of your mercy and grace in my life. Give me a forgiving spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen."

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