Those in the counseling profession often say that Anger is a secondary emotion, resulting from some other  primary cause. The causes just beneath the surface of anger are: 1. Blocked goals or expectations, and 2. Fear.

In the previous post, Part I, I mention some thoughts on how to overcome our angry response to blocked goals. In this one, I want to look at Fear.

How do we experience fear? And, by the way, who says it’s really fear that’s beneath our anger? I can hear you thinking: “I’m not afraid; I’m just plain angry. And you’re making me angrier by saying I’m afraid!” I know. I’m probably blocking one of your goals.

The word “anger” appears 268 times in the Bible; 258 of those in the Old Testament; the vast majority of those appearances refer to God. Yet God is certainly not fearful. How is it that my anger, or yours, might be caused by fear?

1. I am fearful when I suspect I am going to encounter pain. It might be physical, emotional or spiritual pain. All I know is, I don’t like it and I respond with anger either to prevent the pain or to get it to stop.

2. I am fearful when I suspect I’m going to be abandoned. My two best friends from 4th, 5th and 6th grades were assigned to a different homeroom than me in Junior High. In a very short period of time I heard nothing more from them, and only watched from a distance as they hung out with each other. I felt abandoned… and angry.

3. I am fearful when I suspect I will fail at something. I’ll respond by performing (making absolutely sure I measure up), denying (pretending it isn’t really that important to me), bailing (becoming passive or just disappearing), or raging against the system or person who threatens my success.

4. I am fearful when I suspect I will be disrespected. I believe this is the deepest fear for men. It lies beneath the previous 3 fears; and as a result it is the quickest to result in anger.

All men and women have 2 primary needs: Love and Respect. (Emerson Eggerichs wrote a very insightful book by the same title). Though they need both Love and Respect, most women look first for Love. Though we need both, most of us men look first for Respect.

When we encounter pain we feel weak…disrespected. When we encounter abandonment we feel ignored…disrespected. When we encounter failure we feel powerless…disrespected. When we encounter disrespect…we feel anger. Or rage.

How do we escape from these frequently recurring fears? At the risk of simply tossing a Bible verse at a profoundly deep problem, we embrace the words the Lord spoke to Joshua, a warrior who knew fear, when he was told, repeatedly, in Josh. 1:6, 7, 9 and 18: “Be strong and courageous…Be strong and very courageous…Be strong and courageous. Do  not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go…Only be strong and courageous.”

  • Feel pain? The Lord will be with you.
  • Feel abandoned? The Lord will be with you.
  • Feel like a failure? The Lord will be with you.
  • Feel disrespected? The Lord will be with you.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Is. 41:10

Watch this space for Part III.