June Hunt, founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart, an international biblical counseling ministry and award-winning Christian radio broadcaster, shares her expert advice about understanding and dealing with anger in her newly released book, The Answer To Anger: Practical Steps to Temper Fiery Emotions.
In her book, Hunt provides biblical wisdom for those who are struggling with their own anger, or are hoping to understand and resolve the anger they see in their spouse, children, families and friends who are hurting due to unresolved emotional wounds. Hunt walks readers through the journey of accepting anger as a valuable tool, a warning light, to alert everyone that the anger is merely a symptom of a deeper pain, frustration, fear or concern.
Hunt doesn't condemn anger. In fact, she told The Christian Post in a recent interview that "it's God who gave us the capacity to be angry, and there can be a justifiable time to be angry. Ephesians 4:26 says, 'be angry, but do not sin – don't let the sun go down while you are still angry.' Anger should propel you to action to find out what is wrong, and to deal with and fix what is wrong, and to deal with it in a healthy way."
According to Hunt, many Christians have been taught that anger is a sin. "Well, if that's the case, then Jesus is a sinner and it would make God a sinner, and obviously that's not the case. What we have to understand is there's appropriate anger, and so we need to correct the confusion. In other words, we need to look at the whole counsel of God. If we look at the whole counsel of God, we see that, at times, Jesus had indignation. Indignation means that it's a kind of anger that is provoked by something that appears unjust. And, therefore, it's a justified anger."
She shares that "the way you express anger determines whether or not it becomes sinful."
Hunt continues, "So if we can realize that what we're wanting to do is correct what's wrong. It might not be that it's something that's unjust that's causing the anger. It might be that I need to change. But the point is that anger is not our enemy. Anger, if we have it, it should be our friend, to let us know something's wrong."
That being said, Hunt also notes that the Bible includes several warnings about anger, and adds that there's no excuse for anger that is abusive, or makes a spouse, children, friends and colleagues feel shame or fear. "If someone is acting excessively angry toward you, you take action. And you put up a boundary."
"One of the most helpful things of all is to understand the causes of anger. The four causes of anger are: hurt, injustice, fear and frustration."
"Anger can be useful," explained Hunt, who's a senior editorial advisor for The Christian Post. "It prompted the apostle Paul to confront bigotry in the church; and anger compelled Jesus to stand against the greed of the money-changers in the Synagogue and hypocrisy among the religious leaders. But anger becomes dangerous when it's not expressed with discernment."
Hunt believes that once people understand the cause of their anger, they can then begin to heal and help others to do the same. "We can really help other people," she said, by "asking about these important areas. It's one of these roots or a combination."
"In other words, anger, in and of itself, is not a problem. Anger is just a secondary response to one of these four problems. So I need to figure out what's going on if I have anger. Why do I have anger? Is it deeply hurt feelings? Is something unjust going on? Am I fearful of the future? Or is it pure frustration?" she asked.
"If it's a child, you help that child find out what is causing their anger. It might be justified. There could've been some kind of sexual abuse that you know nothing about. Your job is to find out 'why, why is my child angry?' Is there something that's unjust?"
Hunt told CP that there's a process she calls the "quick answer to anger," which is to ask the question: Can I do anything to change it?
"If it can be fixed, you fix it. If you can't, you release it," she advised.
"Let's say that the dearest person in your life has died, and you're just in pain and you feel so hurt. Well, there's a point at which you say, 'Lord, I can't change it.' All I can do is to release it to the Lord and ask for His healing hands."
She explained that it's impossible to understand every moment and every painful circumstance in life, and this is why God tells believers to trust in Him. "The Bible says, 'trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).'"
Discovering the source of anger and releasing it to God:
• Admit your feelings – your hurt, sense of injustice, fear and/or frustration.
• Release to God all the pain you feel, along with the situations beyond your control.
• Release your expectation that life must go your way.
• Trust God to give you the grace and insight to deal constructively with each difficulty.
By going through the sources of anger that are outlined in The Answer To Anger, readers can expedite the process of healing by turning their concerns over to God. Hunt also strongly emphasizes the importance of dealing with anger that is a result of wounds from childhood.
Learn more about June Hunt and Hope for the Heart at hopefortheheart.org/CP.