Praying Our Anger – Gospel in Life
Sermon

Praying Our Anger

Tim Keller |  April 28, 2002

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Topics:
  • Prayer & Meditation
  • Forgiveness
Duration:
41:05
Scripture:
Psalm 137:1-9
SKU:
RS 148-04

Overview

We’re looking at spiritual disciplines that the psalms teach us, disciplines by which we grow into the people God wants us to be. These disciplines help us face forces that could spiritually derail us. One of the things that’s going to happen in life is serious mistreatment, where you become the object of mistreatment from other people and things in this world. What are you going to do with that mistreatment and the anger that comes from that?

This passage is going to tell us some very important things about how to handle mistreatment and how to deal with your anger over mistreatment. We’ll first look at three things the psalmist does with his anger: he owns his anger, he prays his anger, and he limits his anger. Then we’ll look at three practical things that we can do with our anger on this side of the cross.

Psalm 137:1–9

Psalm 137 talks about how to deal with anger and pain when we face unfairness. It shows us three steps: admit you’re angry, pray about it, and set rules for your anger. Even though it sounds tough, it gives practical help for handling anger in a world full of unfairness, especially for those who follow Jesus Christ.

1. Admit your anger

The person who wrote this psalm is really angry and refuses to sing because of the unfairness and mean words he hears. He chooses to remember and speak up against what’s wrong. Sometimes we struggle with this kind of anger. We might try to pretend that evil and unfairness don’t exist or try to hide our anger. But the Bible says that anger is a normal reaction when something good is threatened. It’s not only okay, it’s important. The psalmist’s anger shows us the human heart and how the cross can change us.

2. Pray your anger

The psalmist deals with his anger by praying about it instead of letting it separate him from God. This is different from religious teachings that say to hide your feelings, and from non-religious ideas that say to express and explore your feelings. The psalms tell us to pray about our feelings, combining our experiences with God’s truth. This can change how we feel.

3. Set rules for your anger

The Hebrew word for “remember” shows us that it’s necessary to give our anger and complaints to God. This is different from trying to get revenge ourselves. Believing in a just God, as Miroslav Volf shows, can stop us from using violence to get even. Jesus’ kind reaction to the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem shows us how to change from wanting revenge to giving forgiveness. The idea of God’s forgiveness is shown even more when God gave his son to pay the price for unfairness. This makes us think about doing good and examining the things we value too much.

1. Pass it on

Forgiveness is hard and takes time, but it’s a powerful way to let go of anger and start healing. It’s important to know that it helps us mentally, but knowing how much Jesus forgave and what he paid can really change us. This knowledge helps us forgive others, which benefits us, our society, and the world.

2. Wish for the good

Jesus dying on the cross shows us the hard truth that we’re not perfect and can’t save ourselves. We need God’s Son to intervene. Accepting the cross means accepting God’s deep love. He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save us. This is how we should aim to treat those who do wrong: separate the wrongdoing from the wrongdoer, push for fairness without hate, and offer forgiveness without revenge.

3. Look at your values

To handle anger and forgive others, we need to really look at what we value too much in our lives. For example, a woman could forgive her husband’s failures as a father because her life wasn’t only about her son. True forgiveness and the ability to deal with anger using love and care, even towards those who hurt us, can only come from understanding and accepting Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

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Put Your Hope Not in Lesser gods, But in the One True God

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.

February Book Offer

Put Your Hope Not in Lesser gods, But in the One True God

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.