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Get Angry!

April 20th, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 13: 23 (NLT)

 23 A poor person’s farm may produce much food,
      but injustice sweeps it all away.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

I’ve got some questions for you.  What really makes you mad?  I mean, what genuinely ticks you off to the point of utter infuriation?  Traffic jams?  Copier jams?  Strawberry jams?  Well, maybe not all of these.  We are a society who knows how to really get riled up . . . especially when the cause is worthy.  Just watch the news stories about parents who kill other parents at their children’s hockey games.  Or better yet, cities that riot and loot when their favorite sports teams lose the big game.  You know, really important reasons to get fired up.

In my own life, I find myself sometimes “simmering up” over some incredibly crucial matters.  Take yesterday, for instance.  We had guests coming over to watch Sadie for us when our DVD player broke.  This meant that Sadie wouldn’t be able to watch her Baby Einstein videos if her temperament so demanded it . . . and it also meant that our guests couldn’t watch the movie they were bringing for “baby post-bed time entertainment.”

So, I grabbed our second DVD player from the bedroom and installed it.  Against all odds, it suddenly decided to stop working as well!  The nerve!  I felt my blood pressure rising as I had now been squatting behind our entertainment center for minutes upon end plugging and unplugging wires.  Finally, I had to resort to the unthinkable: I got our third DVD player from the bonus room and hooked it up instead.

Then it hit me!  I am tempted to become upset because I’m struggling to make one of my three DVD players work.  Somewhere in this city tonight, a child will go to bed hungry.  Somewhere in this nation tonight, a husband will lose his wife to cancer.  Somewhere in this world tonight, an unpaid pastor in a third world country will be thrown into prison for his faith.  Somewhere, life will end in suffering and pain.

Yet I’m stressing over traffic jams and broken DVD players.  I’m not arguing that we’re not aware that those other issues are more severe than the little ones we may be facing.  I know that we know.  But how often do we let our frustrations boil over concerning minor . . . even trivial matters that have no earthly or heavenly consequence.  We feel these unreasonable emotions because we live a lifestyle of stress and suffer from a tunnel vision of self that keeps us from seeing full life in its full perspective.

No guilt here; just a prayer that my own eyes will be opened.  The best way to pull back the old ocular lids?  Positioning ourselves to see the pain and needs of others.  

Hence this passage sticks out of scripture like a oddly placed sore thumb of theology.  At first glance, it has no redeemable application.  Nothing to go do.  No pithy statement to standardize for our churches.  Nothing logo-worthy. Nothing but an observation.

And what is the observation?  Simple: injustice abounds.  Solomon doesn’t challenge us to go change it and he doesn’t make cultural conclusions about why it exists.  He simply pries open our eyes to see that it does.  “A poor person’s farm may produce much food, but injustice sweeps it all away.”

I think that those of us who pursue the Author of faith must realize that it is too easy to be moved to indignation over things that don’t really matter.  What should move us to anger– and more importantly, to action– is the observation that people all around the world . . . and the nation . . . and our city . . . and even our own little communities are experiencing the sting of injustice as we speak.

We drive past them.  We turn up the radio and turn down our perceptive outlook.  We just keep living while many of them just keep starving . . . and suffering . . . and maybe even dying.

Again, the answer is not to feel guilt over what we have; the answer is to open our eyes and move our feet to the rhythm of a different tune . . . a song of compassionate proactivity composed in the heart of the Creator and whispered into the souls of His children. The seeds of injustice aren’t usually planted in deliberate rows like a garden; rather, they blow like dandelion seeds in the wind . . . we don’t mean for them to sprout within us, but they do anyway unless we proactively treat the landscape of our lives to avoid them.

So for today at least, I’m working on feeling the right emotions about the right things . . . getting angry at the injustice shown towards the weak and defenseless instead of the menial and non-deliberate drone of unheralded and unnoticed blessings . . . complained about as curses.

Maybe you should join me.  Maybe you should get red-faced too.  Together, we might just make a difference.




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