Mad Is Easier than Sad
As we enter the Lenten season, and I ponder the sins I struggle with, a thought occurred to me that encapsulates my struggle: mad is easier than sad.
In other words, when someone hurts me and I feel sad, it is easier to decide to be angry or mad about what they have done than to feel sadness. If I decide to be mad, then I can cling to the illusion of control that is absent in the midst of sadness.
But the control I feel really is only an illusion. When I choose anger instead of sadness, I have given over control to the devil because it is the devil who wants to see me angry and unforgiving.
As I opened my Bible to our scripture readings for the Ash Wednesday service last Wednesday, my eye fell upon a passage that preceded our reading. We were reading from Matthew 6, but my eye was drawn to these words of Jesus:
“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. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV).
This is not the only place in scripture where we hear Jesus telling us to not be angry. In fact, He says that if we do not let go of our anger and forgive others then we will not be forgiven. See Matthew 6:15. He also tells the wonderful parable of the unmerciful servant who is forgiven a huge debt by his master, but then refuses to forgive his fellow servant’s debt owed to him. Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV).
It is clear from scripture that as easy as being mad may be, it is not what our Lord wants for us or from us. Anger and unforgiveness are serious sins that need to be repented of. I must turn to God and ask His help in overcoming this sin.
As I thought about how much easier it is to be mad than to be sad, it occurred to me that the latter is not a sin. Nowhere in scripture (that I am aware of) does God tell us not to be sad and to turn from our sadness. In fact, in the beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NIV). In Romans 12:15, Paul tells us to “mourn with those who mourn.” Mourning and sadness are not a sin, but an acceptable response when we encounter trials and tribulation. Even “Jesus wept” and mourned. John 11:35 (NIV).
During this season of Lent, my goal is to turn to God and turn away from the sin of anger; to seek His help in being more forgiving. I want to not take the easier path, but to take up my cross and follow Christ.
Linda, this is great and especially meaningful to me as, recently I had just such an opportunity to choose. My feelings got hurt by someone whom I know loves me to pieces, and would never deliberately wound me. Maybe that made it easier to not be mad, but acknowledge my hurt feelings (sad) to God as I told Him, “of course I forgive her!” Before long, the whole silly matter was over and forgotten. This is really an excellent post–thanks so much, Sister!! Have a blessed day.
Caddo, This seems to be a lifelong struggle for me. And the more I know the person loves me it seems the harder it is to not choose mad instead of sad, because it seems like they ought to know that what they are doing hurts. But I am so glad that this resonated with you, and I know just working through it by writing helps God to change my heart and to let Him be in control. Peace, Linda
Good words of wisdom.
When we are sad we are comforted and encouraged by Holy Spirit. When we are angry we lose His comfort and feel His conviction.
It makes sense not to get angry. While it is the natural response to get angry when we are hurt, we are not ‘natural’ people. We are spiritual people and need to live accordingly.
So true – we are spiritual people and need to live according to the Spirit. And yet I struggle with this one still. I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I am just thankful that my Savior sees and understands my struggle, and enters in to help me overcome that which I cannot overcome on my own. Peace, Linda
wow! this is so good and hits home TODAY! thanx for posting!
It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one who needed this message! Peace, Linda
Linda, you have blessed me again. I would rather be hurt and sad than mad .. . .if that would please Him more. And you know, I never realized that sadness and mourning aren’t sins. Didn’t even think about it. It’s just a lie that says it to us, that we have to be happy all the time, if we’re really Christians.
God bless you and thank you for showing me something really important that I will start putting to use now! love and prayers!
Deb, I am seeking God’s grace to help me prefer sadness over anger. It is interesting, though, how different people struggle with different sins. I talked to someone after our Ash Wednesday service and told her about my plans to write this post. She said for her it is easier to be sad and that being angry is not a problem. But for me, I must constantly lean on Jesus to be forgiving. I am so thankful that He faithfully helps me. 🙂 I’m so glad this post was a blessing to you as a reminder that sadness and mourning are not sins. Peace, Linda