On our trip to Yellowstone National Park, we visited the Norris Geyser Basin. According to the information on the park’s signs, the basin is far below the towering peaks of the Gallatin Mountains. Water accumulates underground. The basin sits near the Yellowstone Caldera and is at the edge of one of the largest volcanos on our planet – the Yellowstone Volcano. Heated by the volcano, the water travels upward to erupt from acidic geysers, or to rise from steaming fumaroles (an opening in or near a volcano through which hot, sulfurous gasses emerge), or to simmer in shimmering pools, steaming throughout all kinds of weather. Names such as Fearless Geyser, Monarch Geyser, Yellow Funnel Spring, Steamboat Geyser, Whirligig Geyser, and Pinwheel Geyser give evidence of the variety of sights available in the Norris Geyser Basin, appropriately described as beautiful and bizzare.
While watching the geysers, I considered that they were rather like an allegory for what anger looks like.
For example, the White Dome Geyser stands tall and is silent.
Until, at some unpredictable time, it erupts.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that the geyser is angry … but the unpredictability of its eruption is similar to those whose anger can flare up for seemingly no reason.
Of course, we know that the geyser named Old Faithful erupts almost to the minute on its schedule. No National Park Ranger has to tell it when to erupt – it just does it, day in and day out, on time, on schedule.
Old Faithful could represent the one whose anger erupts over the same trigger, time and time again. Those around him/her know not to say anything about that trigger in fear that the tantrum could erupt again.
We even saw one vent in a fenced off area of a parking lot.
Steam rising up from underground without an on or off button! This geyser could represent the one whose anger is just under the surface, whose anger tinges his/her attitudes and reactions even if a full-fledged eruption does not occur. It is just a matter of time.
Not all geysers shoot high into the heavens. Some geysers bubble up from under the ground, and they continue bubbling nonstop.
This could represent the one whose anger is always churning within, whether or not anything is said to others … the anger is seething and boiling up inside in a never-ending tumult of pain.
Anger – it is something that all of us, if we are honest, have experienced and most would likely say they have experienced it often.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
Long before Emerson said this the Psalmist said:
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
In the Book of Proverbs, we read Solomon’s words on anger:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” –
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,”
“Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”
The Apostle Paul said:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
But too often our anger is misplaced, and many times our anger is motived from self-interest, greed or a desire to control. I know that I have been angry over the actions of another person and the Holy Spirit immediately brings to mind a time when I had done the same thing to someone else. In other words, sin in our life is also a cause for anger.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying something along these lines: “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
The advice to be reluctant before exercising anger is stated in scripture frequently, with the Apostle Paul saying:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
I suspect that most everyone has heard “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. This is a good statement to newly weds and is a good policy for a positive marital relationship. But it extends much more broadly to all our relationships.
However, the first part of Ephesians 4:26 is not quoted as often. In certain situations, it is appropriate to be angry. Remember Jesus at the temple when he was angry that it had been turned into a “den of thieves”? Read Mark 11:15-17. That is appropriate anger, my friend!
Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
I suggest to you that anger is frequently sinful and, when harbored continuously, is physically harmful to you. Eruptions of anger increase blood pressure and all sorts of physical reactions when, in the long run, can cause damager to your body, even disregarding the damage it can cause to relationships, family members, etc.
Take time to consider the geysers and their eruptions, consider which one parallels your emotional make-up, and then consider the scripture that speaks to anger and its management.
The Holy Spirit will help you because it is the Spirit’s job to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Father, I pray that we would read Your Word and consider whether the anger that we so often experience is a holy anger or if it is motivated by selfish desires, pride, arrogance or any other sin that we have harbored in our hearts. Let us confess and repent of that sin and live a life that is based on Your Word and empowered by Your Spirit. In Jesus Name, I pray.