Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fear of God = God's Wrath?

Who considers the power of your anger? Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Psalm 90:11-12 NRSV

I have a temper. Ask anyone in my family they can confirm this. It has nothing to do with the color of my hair - it has to do with my personality. When I lose my temper it is gone. I get angry. I totally lose it. I become loud, rude, hurtful, sometimes even violent, although I don't hit anyone or any pets. I have thrown things, slammed doors, or hit stuff. It is not a pretty sight. And forget counting to ten or any of those other ways to calm down - I am already past that point.

What happens in my son's eyes and emotions when I lose my temper like that? Does he fear me? What about parents who are abusive to their children in times of anger? Do their children fear them?

And if I can be that angry, what about God? If God has created me in God's image, can God get that uncontrollably angry? I cannot imagine what kind of wrath God could unleash. But the story of Noah as well as the story of the Israelites' behavior while Moses was receiving the ten commandments do come to mind.

If our fear should be as great as God's capability of anger, I don't think I have that much fear in me. Perhaps God's angry power isn't all that great because God loves us and wants us instead to be merciful and forgiving? Or maybe we aren't capable of as much fear as God is capable of such anger.

In that case, we need to heed the advice in verse 12: realize that we are human, that our lives are finite so that we can achieve wisdom. In realizing our human limitations, we can look at and live our lives in a wiser and healthier way.

God, we have no clue about Your capacity for anger, therefore cannot truly fear You. But we can realize our limitations and live our lives in Your way. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

1 comment:

  1. Your posts about anger and the fear of god definitely spark thought. It tends to be, as you say, a touchy subject that is hard to understand... It seems like a dark side at first glance, but i think the reality of life is one of sly balance. Good can only be recognized by a balance of evil (i use 'balance' very carefully here), and good inside us can only be recognized by a lack thereof, even if it is a temporary... "outburst" or "outward flux".

    Anyway, if personalized and reflected with God in mind, Anger turns into something which we really can't wrap our minds around... on the cosmic scale at least. God has a much bigger piece of that angry pie. And maybe we SHOULD fear it!