I don’t know about you, but if I were offered the chance to try remote-controlled living for just a day, I think I’d have to put it to the test. I would replay my happiest moments over and over again, forward through unpleasant encounters, and slow down the moments that went by too fast. But, there’s something else I think would come in pretty handy, too – the ability to pause life at the press of a button.
In the story of Cain and Abel, it occurred to me that Cain might have benefited from a nice long pause, too. We all know the story. After these two brothers offered their sacrifices to God, Abel’s offering was accepted. Cain’s was rejected. As a result, Cain became jealous and angry… very angry.
As Cain’s anger escalated, the Lord gently came to him and reasoned with him: “‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him,” (Genesis 4:6-8, NIV).
Rather than heeding the Lord’s warning, Cain turned his resentment and anger into revenge – and it seems he did so without a moment of hesitation. Cain acted both on impulse and on anger, which proved to be a destructive combination. It often is for us, too.
Anger is a powerful emotion, and when confronted by it, we can either control it or be controlled by it. If we choose the latter, the warning from the Spirit of God is unmistakable: sin is crouching at our door.
Unfortunately, when it comes to processing our anger, we don’t have the luxury of pressing pause and stopping the madness. Whenever we face disappointment, hurt, or rejection, many of us instinctively want to lash out and hurt the one who hurt us. Even though this is often our initial response, there is a better way.
Rather than acting on our anger or trying to suppress it, we can take it to our Father who can help us process through it. We can look deep into our own hearts, and address the issues hidden deep inside of us. When we do, by the grace of God we can come to a place where we no longer aim to hurt, but to heal – where we no longer seek revenge, but to restore the relationship. This isn’t always the easier choice, but it is the better one. Press on. Walk the path.
Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries
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