Murder in My Head
Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. Genesis 27:42
When my son was young, he wanted to try hockey, so, we got all the gear on, and headed to the practice arena. As he was timidly waiting to go out on the ice for the first time, I was standing a distance away, watching him and the other kids. Another boy said something to him, and my son turned to answer. Suddenly, this other kid slammed his hockey stick across my son’s upper chest/throat, driving him back against the boards. Rage exploded inside me as I shouted and bolted towards my son, who was obviously shocked by the aggression. The other kid saw me coming, relented, and bolted away. I wanted to chase him. I wanted to pummel him – a kid. I wanted to find his dad and pummel him too.
I stopped and comforted my frightened son, but later that night, lying in bed, I found myself fantasizing about beating that kid and his father. I’m telling you this story because I think you’ll understand my anger, but I think you’ll also be appropriately shocked by the fact that I found comfort in the thought of hurting, not just the father, but also his child. Those thoughts were terrible and yet I found revolting solace in them. I finally calmed down, realizing that daydreaming about hurting a kid IS NOT emotionally healthy.
We all have pacifiers to which we turn when stressed. These are behaviors that we’ve learned will provide immediate gratification, soothing us when stressed. Unfortunately, because of the nature of immediate gratification, these are also often unhealthy behaviors. I know many guys, who when stressed, turn to pornography. They don’t want to look at porn. It’s caused problems in their marriage, yet when under duress, they use pornography for comfort. For others, it’s alcohol, drugs, social media, eating, or even shopping. Whatever it is, we know how to comfort ourselves – but we also know that eating a dozen donuts just isn’t healthy.
In today’s passage, Esau modeled this kind of behavior. Enraged that his brother had robbed him of his inheritance and his father’s blessing, Esau comforted himself by plotting to kill his brother. I know what will make me feel better . . .
Most of us have found ourselves here. When hurt or offended by others, we rage at them, finding comfort in our secret wrath. We may never say or do anything, but in our minds, we sooth ourselves with dark, terrible thoughts. I hope you lose your job . . . Because we never act on these evil thoughts, we pretend it’s not a problem. Jesus however, said this – You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder . . . But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment . . . will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:22).
Raging only in our minds never hurts the other. Anger is however, toxic to our own souls, turning us from God, while poisoning our emotional and spiritual lives. We may find immediate comfort in our secret rage, but there’s always a price to pay later. We will never find joy and peace while indulging in wrath. If we desire to experience authentic joy and peace, then we must daily let go of our anger, even if no one ever else sees it. Daily, instead, we must take our hurt to God, asking him what he wants us to do with it. That is a healthy response to life’s stressors.