Devotional Readings

Anger and the Adrenaline Connection

If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry–get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil. Ephesians 4:26, 27, TLB.

On rare occasions as a child I heard my folks speak angry words–usually when Dad was driving one way, and Mom thought we should be going another! It wasn’t hostile; they weren’t trying to hurt each other. They were just trying to get their points across. But the loud voices and negative words made an impact on me. After the passion blew over, which usually happened quickly, I felt the hurt in my sensitive heart. And I figured there had to be a better way to settle differences.

Psychologists have observed the destructive effects of long-term anger and have erroneously come to the conclusion that you’ve got to get it out, regardless of whom you hurt. But it’s never appropriate to hurt another in order to heal yourself! Instead, the Bible admonishes us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)!

Now studies are proving the psychologists were wrong–and the Bible right. The answer is in prevention, early recognition, and educated control. It’s not wrong to feel angry as a temporary emotion that produces needed energy to correct injustice, but how you express that emotion–the behavior that follows–is what matters. If it hurts yourself or others, it’s wrong!

If you stuff it, you’re going to mess up the way God intended your body to work. Anger produces an adrenaline rush that God designed for your survival–to fight or flee. Stuffed anger keeps the adrenaline motor running–flooding body tissue and organs with unnecessary chemicals that damage the arteries, elevate blood pressure, and cause headaches, ulcers, and premature heart disease.

But the same thing happens if you express anger with angry words and behavior! Dr. Carol Tavris reviewed anger research, then wrote the book Anger, The Misunderstood Emotion. Her conclusion was that freely venting doesn’t relieve anger but increases it and establishes a hostile habit. She says it is better to “keep quiet about your momentary irritations and distract yourself with pleasant activity until your fury simmers down.”

This method is good for your health because it avoids the unnecessary adrenaline rush that poisons your system. You’ll feel better faster and be able to think more clearly about how to solve the problem so no one gets hurt.

Lord, help me to handle my anger in healthy ways so it won’t hurt me–or others.

–Kay Kuzma

from Fit Forever: One-A-Day Devotionals for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Kay Kuzma (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
Purchase this book