Since March everything has changed. Family get-togethers have become taboo. A handshake has become an awkward elbow-tap. Once recognizable faces are covered with an array of masks. Ball stadiums sit empty, health departments packed full. Everything has changed.
We have learned some things about ourselves. We are spoiled. We really don’t have to go out and eat every day. We don’t have to go to our favorite vacation spot. We don’t need to shop near as much as we thought we did. We are also sad. We miss hanging out. We want to touch, embrace, shake a hand, give a high-five. We long to sit around a table together and not wonder if we’re at risk. We’re weary of hand sanitizer, masks and bad news. We want to be normal again…whatever that is.
We’re grieving. When you experience loss you grieve.
Grief is the acute pain that accompanies loss.–Psychology Today
Some have lost loved ones to Covid or other illnesses. Some have lost the ability to walk into a nursing home and sit with their mother, father, grandfather, friend. Some have lost their jobs, others have lost the ability to have a proper funeral for their deceased loved one.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross researched patients who had to come to terms with their terminal illness diagnosis. She determined that these patients go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I agree with David Feldman (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201707/why-the-five-stages-grief-are-wrong) that the stages of grief are more like a roller coaster. Sometimes people go back and forth, looping from one stage to the next, and back to the prior stage. Grief is messy.
And grief is angry. Scripture doesn’t forbid anger…as a matter of fact, Scripture commands it. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath and give no opportunity for the devil.” If you have lost something valuable, you are grieving. And if you are grieving, you might be angry–and not know it.
How can you know if anger is lurking beneath the surface? Here are three simple diagnostic questions:
- Do things that don’t normally bother you now irritate you?
- Are you “short” in your responses to the most important people in your life?
- Do you complain more and thank less?
You may need to have a sunset showdown. Today. Get alone with God, or God and a trusted friend, and talk out your anger. Consider these simple steps:
- Write down what you are grieving most.
- Tell God.
- Tell your spouse, a trusted friend, or an accountability partner.
And do that again. Every day if you have too. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. And be thankful. As Christians we have a mandate and an opportunity others do not:
Be thankful in all things, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)