I have a confession. During 2020, I had a meltdown moment. I am not a conspiracy person. By that, I don’t mean that I don’t believe conspiracies exist. I only mean that their existence or non-existence is not a driving force in my day-to-day life. I find a lot of wisdom in Isaiah 8:12, therefore I leave conspiracies for others to contemplate. So, my meltdown moment was precipitated by an onslaught of one conspiracy idea after another. Each one was basically in the spirit of you’d have to be an idiot to not believe this or to believe that. Well, finally, one day, I had my fill. I went into my bedroom, buried my head in the pillows and covers, and yelled at the top of my lungs. I ranted and raved about how I wanted everyone to just shut up, and how stupid I thought most of these ideas were, and how I didn’t feel respected for my own understanding of what was happening. I mean, I probably lost it for a good solid minute or two.
Then, I was ok.
Was that mature of me? Is that the kind of response you’d expect from me, the guy who just wrote to men about taking out their emotional trash? The plus side is this: I didn’t lose it at someone. I basically vented to the LORD, although later I had to ask forgiveness for some of the things I said. But the question stands. Did I respond to the pressures squeezing me in a mature manner? Honestly, I don’t know. I know how I handled it was better than blowing up on a friend telling me what they believed. But the fact that I even got to this explosive point bothers me. I’ve psychologized it to death. Twenty-twenty was a difficult year for several reasons besides the pandemic, so perhaps it was a snowball with a lot more stuff in it than pandemic conspiracies. Maybe. But the question still endures. Was my response mature?
Is it ever ok to lose it?
A simple yes or no answer would be too simplistic. That could open the door to emotional harm on both sides. But my answer is yes with a huge caveat. If you must lose it, here’s the caveat: lose it to the LORD. I could point you to several Psalms with examples, but at least one Psalm seems devoted entirely to a time when David vented to the LORD. Read Psalm 58.
1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”
David saw the injustice administered by the gods of the neighboring nations. These are the same gods who always seemed to tempt Israel into idolatry. David accused them of scheming wrongs and provoking violence among their people. And those schemes were always spilling over borders into Israel, causing conflict, creating crises, etc. So David is angry about it. He recognized that there were spiritual beings posing as gods leading the people over the border astray, creating injustice, and ultimately affecting his own people in a multitude of ways. What does he do?
He angry prays. You’ve heard of an ugly cry, well this is an angry prayer. The theological name for it is an imprecatory psalm. In this one, David vents his anger out to the LORD, praying for judgment to befall the gods of the nations. He didn’t pray that the peoples of the nations would be judged, but rather that their gods would be judged. He saw through the sinful works of men and women to the spiritual forces at work behind their actions. David went straight for the source. He rightly placed His anger on target and then vented His anger to the right Person.
David didn’t bottle his anger in a way that affected his loved ones. He didn’t keep it all to himself only to later lash out unreasonably at his family. He gave full unfiltered vent of his emotions to the LORD so that he wouldn’t do it to someone else who, A) didn’t deserve it, and B) couldn’t do anything to resolve his problem to begin with.
I know some aren’t comfortable speaking to the LORD in this manner. I get it, but I also remind you that venting to the LORD is better than not speaking at all or pretending that you’re ok before the One who absolutely knows you’re not. It’s ok to come undone to the One who can actually do something about it. Now, clearly, not everything we might say to the LORD in our anger will be in step with the Spirit. You might, like I did, need to repent later for things you say. But Psalm 58 presents us with an occasion where David’s anger and the LORD’s anger are in step. He was angry about what made God angry. Sometimes our anger can be righteous, but that tends only to be the case when we’ve already been consistently walking in the light with Him. There are two things that show us David’s anger was righteous.
First, Psalm 58, ultimately, was inspired work. The LORD inspired these words from David’s pen. Many opinions exist regarding the process of inspiration. In this case, David had walked with the LORD consistently enough that the desires of his heart and God’s desires were in step, so what angered the LORD angered David. When David penned this Psalm, it was already an inspired writing because his heart and the LORD’s heart were in agreement on this matter. It was so evident, that even later scribes recognized the inspired nature of the writing and included it in the Psalms that would become Scripture.
Second, the LORD answers David’s prayer in Psalm 82.
1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!
Because David’s anger was righteous, and he poured it out to the only One who could possibly do something about it, God answered him. David asked the LORD to judge the gods in Psalm 58. The LORD decreed the judgment of the gods in Psalm 82. Answer, response.
Is it ever ok to lose it? I say only if you lose it to the LORD. Jesus has the biggest shoulders ever. Lose it on his everlasting arms. Then if you need to go talk to someone, you’ve given Jesus the brunt of your anger before you ever say a word to the person who has offended you. Besides, if your anger is righteous, perhaps the LORD will answer you in surprising ways before you open your mouth to another soul about what troubles you.