Tornadoes devastated the southern United States during the spring of 2011. Six EF-5 tornadoes touched down to set records in death and destruction. Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri were the most notable. These weather events did not occur without contributing conditions. Unusually warm humid conditions in the lower atmosphere and cooler conditions in the upper atmosphere combined with wind direction changes and increased wind speed to bring the intense, counter-clockwise whirling funnels that cost over 2.8 billion dollars in damage to Joplin alone.
Japan experienced a tsunami that same year which swept away cars and buildings leaving 19,000 people dead. Tsunamis are a series of waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of water. This displacement is activated by disturbances that are either natural, like shifting tectonic plates, or man-made.
Tsunamis and tornadoes manifest in powerful and destructive ways. Human rage is a lot like these natural conditions which bring so much pain and demise. Beneath the surface and behind the scenes there is a build-up which explodes in harmful outbursts. Inaccurate judgments of another person’s motives or intentions lead to incorrect conclusions which allow anger to erupt in volcanic displays of temper. At first it seems justified, but the damage to relationships and self-worth makes an impact that is unfavorable.
We need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath. Listening and putting aside wrath allows time to honestly evaluate situations, which proves less foolish than explosive demonstrations of ire. Patient love overlooks offenses and reveals a glory greater than self-vindicating anger.
Proverb composing King Solomon said that a person who cannot control his temper is like a city whose walls are broken down-they are defenseless. He also equated outbursts of rage with exalting foolishness and slowness to wrath as evidence of great understanding.
The key to patience when tempted to explode is to stop and realize that your assessment of another person’s thoughts, intents or understanding may be mistaken. Remember that your wrath, though it feels warranted, actually grieves the Spirit of God and contradicts the life Christ imparts. The grief and life-long resentment it instills in the people you love is not worth the momentary pleasure an outburst gives you.
Consider the wide swath of destruction tornadoes and tsunamis leave in their wake. Is that how you want to be remembered?