Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 4 of “Fan or Follower – Deal with Division” (LISTEN HERE).
When is the last time that a problem has been solved through rage and revenge?
The last time you had an argument/fight in your marriage…did rage solve it?
The last time an individual expressed rage against a political policy or figure, did the issue resolve?
The last time someone cut you off in traffic and you reacted in rage…did it make the other person or you a better driver?
The Proverbs say this, (Proverbs 29:11) Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
Here’s a story I mentioned in the message yesterday of Bud Welch (his daughter was killed in the Alfred Murrah Federal Building Bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. She was 23, not 3 as I mentioned in the sermon …sorry for the mistake!)
Bud Welch fought his rage and desire for retribution when his daughter Julie was killed along with 167 other people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Welch had opposed the death penalty before his daughter was killed, but he reversed his stance as he tried to cope with his loss in the weeks following the bombing.
“People used to tell me, particularly when Julie hit her teenage years, that ‘Bud, you’d change your mind [about the death penalty] if your daughter was murdered,’ ” Welch said. “After the bombing, I was so full of revenge and retribution, I didn’t even want a trial for [Oklahoma City bombers] McVeigh and [Terry] Nichols. I thought the federal government and prosecutors were useless and I just wanted them fried.”
Welch, who owned a service station in Oklahoma City at the time, said he was so grief-stricken and had such a hard time dealing with his loss that he would go home and drink to try to get himself to fall asleep. His drinking gradually increased.
One day, about 10 months after Julie’s death, Welch went to the bomb site — which he routinely visited because that was the last place where his daughter was alive — and began to examine himself and search for a way to get past his grief. He found that he was being consumed that the same rage and thirst of revenge that had driven McVeigh and Nichols to blow up the Murrah Federal Building and kill his daughter.
“I finally asked myself three questions: Do I need to have a trial right away? Do I need to have a conviction? Do I need to have McVeigh and Nichols executed?” Welch said. “I came to the conclusion that none of those things needed to be part of the healing process I had to go through to get past this and stop the alcohol abuse and stop smoking three packs of cigarettes a day.
“It was hate and retribution that drove McVeigh and Nichols. They were getting revenge for what happened in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier on April 19, 1993″ — when U.S. government agents began storming the Branch Davidian compound, and the sect’s stronghold went up in flames.
“It was out of rage and retribution that Julie and so many fine people are dead today,” Welch said. “After I began to realize what drove McVeigh and Nichols, I realized that I didn’t want to let my rage and revenge get out of control like it did with them.”
Bud Welch was able to release his rage and bring calm through wisdom given to him. It is just one practical example of why the Lord encourages us as we follow him to release our rage. The Apostle Paul writes, Ephesians 4:31-32, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Again our example and forgiveness is in Christ. He released his rage against us and the world and chose instead to love and forgive.
Challenging? Absolutely! Yet our soul is blessed with calm, forgiveness and peace when the Spirit enables us to release our rage.
Apply: Is there a situation past or present that still causes rage in your heart? What might happen as the Spirit releases you from that rage and replaces it with compassion and forgiveness?
Prayer: Lord forgive me when my heart is filled with rage. Replace my rage with your compassion, love and forgiveness. AMEN.