When I first started reading comic books as a young man, I was drawn to the Incredible Hulk. I loved how strong he was. I wasn’t a particularly strong kid, so I dreamed about what it would be like to have the Hulk’s strength. As I got older, I began to realize that the Incredible Hulk was a story about a lot more than just a character who was super strong.
I admired the Hulk for his strength at first. However, as I matured, I began to see his story as a tragedy. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but for most of the character’s history, he transformed from mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner into the Hulk when he was emotionally distressed or angry. At that point, destruction would ensue and lots of things got smashed. Buildings, homes, villains, heroes, and relationships were frequently destroyed when the Hulk emerged. For me, the Hulk’s story transitioned into a story about the destructive power of unchecked rage and anger. Sure, he could be heroic frequently, but destruction always followed in his wake.
We all experience moments of anger. People hurt us. Circumstances spin out of our control. Things happen to us and we get angry. Anger isn’t typically the problem. It is what we do with that anger that often becomes problematic. It might cause us to lash out, to hurt others, to get revenge, to hold a grudge, or to become bitter. It’s easy to fall into any one of those traps. Ultimately, each one of those responses takes us down a dark and destructive path that is unhealthy for the soul and for our relationships.
Paul has some words of wisdom for us when it comes to our anger.
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others upaccording to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:26-32
A lesson we can learn from the Incredible Hulk is that unchecked anger and rage will always lead to the destruction of our relationships and of ourselves. We need to remember that anger can be an appropriate response to something, but holding on to it will only hurt us and others. Anger that devolves into rage and bitterness will turn us into something that God doesn’t intend for us.
Instead, let us be committed to kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and most of all to the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is always the better way.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you quick to forgive when someone makes you angry?
- Are you holding on anger at someone or something?
- What is that anger doing to your relationships?
- What is that anger doing to your soul?
- How can you work to reconcile broken relationships caused by anger?