Resolving Past Anger

Unresolved anger is a bed of hidden coals burning deep wounds into your relationship with God and with others. This powerful emotion robs your heart of peace and steals contentment from your spirit. “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” (Psalm 73:21–22)

So, how can past anger be resolved?

Realize Your Burning Anger:

  • Willingly admit that you have unresolved anger.
  • Ask God to reveal any buried anger in your heart.
  • Seek to determine the primary reason(s) for your past anger.
  • Talk out your anger with God and with a friend or counselor.
  • I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” (Psalm 38:18)

Revisit Your Root Feelings:

  • Did you feel hurt (rejected, betrayed, unloved, ignored)?
  • Did you experience injustice (cheated, wronged, maligned, attacked)?
  • Did you feel fearful (threatened, insecure, out-of-control, powerless)?
  • Did you feel frustrated (inadequate, inferior, hindered, controlled)?
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)

Receive God’s Love:

  • Meditate on and memorize Scripture revealing God’s love for you:
    • Jeremiah 31:3
    • Psalm 32:10
    • Lamentations 3:22–23
    • Psalm 89:1
    • Psalm 13:5–6
    • Psalm 103:17
  • Read five psalms daily for one month.
  • Rest in the acceptance of God, not in the acceptance of others.
  • Rely on the Lord to meet your inner needs for love, for significance, and for security.
  • How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

Release Your Rights:

  • Confess that harboring anger in your heart is sin.
  • Give your desire for revenge to God.
  • Refuse to hold on to your past hurts by releasing them to God.
  • Pray for God to work in the life of the one who has wronged you and to change your heart toward that person.
  • Release the one who hurt you into the hands of God—forgive as God forgave you!
  • Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Rejoice in God’s Purpose:

  • Thank God for the ways He will use this trial in your life.
  • Know that God can use your resolved past anger for your good and for the good of those around you.
  • Praise God for His commitment to use all the circumstances in your life to develop Christ’s character within you, making you strong, firm, and steadfast.
  • The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Restore the Relationship: … When Appropriate.

  • Even if reconciliation is not appropriate (after adultery or with an unrepentant abuser) or not possible (after a death), you must always confess your own sin.
  • Realize that when someone sins against you and you hold on to anger and refuse to be reconciled to the person, you are sinning against both God and that individual.
  • Confess the anger in your heart to God and ask the person to forgive you for refusing to be reconciled.
  • Write out the confession first to get the wording correct: “I realize I’ve been wrong in holding on to my anger against you and refusing to allow God to restore our relationship. I’m deeply sorry. Will you forgive me?”
  • Be sure the encounter is free of anger and accusatory statements.
  • You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.… Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21–24)

Reflect Christ’s Love:

  • Actively seek to reflect the love of God toward the person who hurt you.
  • Pray in your heart …
    • “Lord, help me to submit to Your control.”
    • “Lord, I want Your mind to direct my mind.”
    • “Lord, reflect Your attitudes in my actions.”
    • “Lord, guide my words to express Your love.”
  • A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35)

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This information comes from Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Anger: Facing the Fire Within, Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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