“Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? Why has your heart carried you away,and why do your eyes flash, so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth (Job 15:11-13)?”
I am learning a lot in my new job. I am a university teacher of international students, which is nothing new for me. But these students are different from the ones in my last teaching post. Unlike the students in my previous job, this current crop are “pre-academic”, which means they are preparing for university. They’re not there yet.
With these folks, I encounter the type of academic behavior you would expect from junior high students – a list of “nots”: not meeting deadlines, not bringing resources to class, not doing the homework, not coming to class. I am not the most patient man in the world, and this new job has really tested my patience. Yesterday in particular I felt like a drill sergeant as I pushed and lectured and cajoled my students to act like adults. I don’t like this type of confrontation and find that having to push people to do what they should be doing anyway makes me mad. In such cases, I really have to work at controlling my temper.
In one other school overseas, in a new job in a similar environment, my heavy handedness got me into a lot of trouble. My students revolted. They blamed me as much as I blamed them. For a time, the whole situation was a disaster.
But I’ve noticed a slow change occurring in my heart these days. I have begun to put people over the standards. As a result, I suddenly have started to help my students along instead of berating and blaming them. They still need an occasional kick, but the boot is strategically placed to induce appropriate actions and results. I think I am a better teacher now. Ironically, the students perform better when they see I care.
It seems to be a part of our nature to blame others for our misfortune. George Bush was to blame for just about everything when he was president. Other targets of people’s rage are the other gender, other races, other drivers –others. Rage is all the rage.
Look at the case of Andrew Joseph Stack III. The NewYork Times wrote about him recently: “Leaving behind a rant against the government, big business and particularly the tax system, a computer engineer smashed a small aircraft into an office building where nearly 200 employees of the Internal Revenue Service were starting their workday Thursday morning, the authorities said.” Stack was described by the stepfather of his wife as easygoing otherwise. Oh, by the way, the paper also mentioned that Stack had marital troubles.
Could it be that this man was venting because life stank for him? Is it possible that he himself made some wrong choices, bringing the troubles down on his own head? It could be the IRS was a convenient scapegoat and bullseye for his anger.
We may get mad at our wives and kids, our coworkers, the neighbors, or the driver that just cut us off. But the most convenient target is God. He doesn’t answer back, at least not directly. When in doubt, we blame God for our troubles, even when we ourselves are the source of our problems. This is no surprise to God. He is used to the anger of mankind (Proverbs 19:3)
Once Jesus once took his disciples apart for a much-needed break. Yet, when they got to their vacation spot they met up with a crowd wanting their attention. Exhausted and frustrated, Jesus got mad and stalked off with his disciples in a huff, cursing the people as he left –right? That’s not the biblical account. The Scriptures say that Jesus looked upon the people with compassion, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. He proceeded to meet their needs (Mark 6:30-43).
We could study that story and decide that the application is to be more compassionate towards people, even when we ourselves are suffering. But this isn’t enough. It is difficult to minister to others when we ourselves are not free.
What is enough is to comprhend that Jesus is enough in our own situations, that He is sufficient even when we have a ton of needs. Once we understand that, then we will have freedom inside. Then we can be aware of the concerns and problems of others and desire to alleviate their distress.