How Christian Athletes Can Process Anger And Grief
Angry over COVID-19? Your answer may be more revealing than you think.
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Athletes, coaches, and fans are facing a great deal of loss as a result of COVID-19. Seasons have been canceled. Careers have ended. Teammates are separated. Workouts are interrupted. These losses are producing pain that often leads to anger.
Remember, not all anger is sin (Eph. 4:26). God allows us to express anger, but unrighteous anger must be urgently resisted. This type of anger is rooted in pride and reflects a set of disordered desires. It’s often directed at God and reveals our heart’s truest affection – ourselves!
We must process this anger through the lens of Scripture and take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
GOD IS NOT ON TRIAL
God is not on trial here; we are! Resist the temptation to direct your anger at God. We will stand before God and give an account for the ways we respond to COVID-19 (Matt. 12:36). Who are we to “talk back to God?” (Rom. 9:20) and “woe to him who quarrels with his Maker…” (Is. 45:9). Trust in His sovereign grace and believe that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28) and what Satan means for evil, God means for good (Gen. 50:20). Meditate on those truths and allow a good God to dissolve your anger.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
GOOD AND ANGRY
Did Jesus get angry? It appears so. Jesus flipped tables (Matt. 21:12). He used a whip (John 2:15). He came with a sword (Matt. 10:34). He’s called the lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5). He afflicted the comfortable (Matt. 19:21). There was a righteous anger within the person of Christ that we must desire to replicate. His anger was in response to sin. It’s this kind of anger that we must pursue — one that is both good and angry. To gauge the goodness of your anger, consider the following questions:
- Is your anger a reaction to actual sin?
- Are you more concerned with offenses against God than offenses against yourself?
- Are you expressing anger in a way that is consistent with Christian character?
This kind of anger is rare! Most anger is sinful and motivated by pride (James 1:20). It exposes our idols and love for creation, not our Creator (Rom. 1:25). Undoubtedly, God is using the coronavirus to frustrate the plans of his people (Ps. 33). As C.S. Lewis stated, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts in our pains.” God may be using the coronavirus to grab the attention of athletes, coaches, and fans throughout the world. Addressing our misguided anger will tune our ears to the shouts of God. What is He trying to tell you?
INTERROGATE YOUR ANGER
Is your anger justified? Pursue reality at all costs and be ruthlessly honest with yourself. We have a tremendous ability to lie to ourselves, so allow others into this process. Gain perspective by asking a trusted friend. Pray and meditate on Scripture. Practice soul attentiveness. Feel to heal. What does your soul really need right now?
NAIL IT TO THE CROSS
If you don’t like what you find, nail it to the cross (Col. 2:14). Repent and believe in the Lord and allow His grace to lead you to greater obedience. By confessing your sin and walking away from sinful anger you remove all condemnation. In Christ, you are forgiven. Run into the arms of your Father. You are white as snow (Is. 1:18).
In Christ, you are forgiven.
PROCESS YOUR PAIN
As you process your pain, take heart in the numerous biblical figures who processed their pain throughout Scripture. Look to Psalms and Lamentations to better understand biblical lament. Consider Job’s response to incredible suffering and take heart that God will use your pain for your good and His glory. Utilize healthy coping mechanisms. Bring your pain to the light. Start a journal, talk with a friend, and cry out to God as you patiently endure.
Instead of reacting with anger, embrace COVID-19. As you rejoice in your sufferings (Rom. 5:3), the world notices. Be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Pet. 3:15). Consider it all joy (James 1:2) that you are suffering as Christ suffered. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Allow this time to purify your faith and grow your godly dependence.
BE SEIZED BY THE POWER OF A GREATER AFFECTION
Combat your desire for sinful anger with the power of a greater affection — an affection that brings eternal rewards that far exceed the temporary gratification of earthly sin, an affection for Jesus Christ where true transformation and victory over sin are ultimately found.
Finally, draw your attention to a different anger: God’s anger toward sin that was poured out on the cross. It is here that this new affection is formed. Sinful anger dissolves when we remember the cross. Only gratefulness and an all-consuming affection for Christ remain. Be seized by the power of Jesus Christ!