I was in an emergency room late one night several years ago. There were victims of wrecks, attacks, and brutal crimes. A child whose arms and face were bruised leaving you to wonder if they really fell down stairs or were beaten by a parent. A woman was there telling police she was beat up by her boyfriend.
Injustice in this world makes me angry. You may feel the same. But anger has many more roots than mere injustice. Anger at self. Anger at life. Anger at the military or the hospital or the highway system. And there’s anger at God. Anger that takes the form of the three-letter question—why? Why him? Why her? Why now? Why us? Anger at not getting an answer soon enough or never getting an answer at all.
When my brother was killed in an accident in 1975, I asked all the “why” questions. I never got a letter from heaven explaining, but over time I did get my answer. That answer was trust Even though I didn’t understand His actions, I could trust His heart, because the Lord is Good and His mercies endure forever.
I heard a story once about a young man who had been sued for $1.5 million, but settled for $936. The man was required to mail a dollar to the family of their daughter whom he had killed while drinking and driving. The young man was seventeen and the young woman was eighteen. He served a court sentence, spent seven years campaigning against drunk driving, but he keeps forgetting to send the dollar.
The weekly restitution was to last eighteen years. He makes the check out to the victims, mails it to her family, and the money is deposited into a scholarship fund.
The family has taken him to court four times for failure to comply. After the most recent court appearance, the young man spent thirty days in jail. He’s not defying the order, he says, but rather is haunted by the girl’s death and tormented by the reminders. He offered the family two boxes of checks covering payments for one year more than required. They refused. It’s not money they seek, but penance.
Quoting the mother, “We want to receive the check every week on time. We will go back to court every month if we have to.”
This family’s anger is understandable. Only the naive would think it fair to leave the guilty unpunished. But when is enough penance enough? When they receive final payment, will they be at peace? Will they be able to put the matter to rest?
Not one of us makes it through life free of injury. Someone somewhere has hurt you. Part of you has died because someone spoke too much, demanded too much, or neglected too much.
Isn’t it time to free yourself of your anger and find some peace?
James 1:20 “ For human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”