By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online
I have been reading a book about Alexandre Dumas Sr., the father of the world famous author of the same name who wrote the classic, “The Three Musketeers” and other titles. Dumas Sr. was a black man who had been a slave and became a general in the French army in the Revolutionary days. The Book is called, “The Black Count”. I’ve only read the introduction, but it has captured my imagination in just the introduction, which inclines me to write this. I feel compelled to write about the fruitlessness of anger.
Dumas the writer recounts as a youth that his father died when he was just four years old. It was explained to him by his mother that his father had gone to heaven to be with God. Dumas asked if he would see his father. His mother told him no. He asked if he would ever see his father again. His mother told him no, not in this lifetime.
The boy, Dumas was so filled with anger that he acted without reason, with pure fury. He went to a closet to retrieve his father’s shotgun. He loaded it and proceeded up the stairs to his father’s room where he lay in death. His mother was there and confronted him.
“What are you doing?” his mother asked the boy.
“I’m going to heaven to kill God, because he took my father away!” the boy replied.
I’ve felt anger that intense, in the last week in fact, because of something that happened to me, and continues from the past, like a festering wound that won’t heal. I feel like a burn victim, whose soul is dipped in battery acid. It doesn’t matter what it is and I won’t talk about it in these pages, except to mention that it hurts and I want to take revenge against persons in the past who have wronged me and brought me to this state of melancholy. But anger is fruitless and revenge is fruitless and all is in the hands of God. You can’t kill God, you can not harm Him in any way. You can deny his existence, but then you would just be a fool. He exists, and he cares, and someday I will meet Him and make an account of what I have done. God is not responsible for the wrongs that have been done to you.
Once while I was still in Iraq and the wounds of heartbreak and disappointment were at their summit, I sought the advice of a Chaplin whom I trusted. He said, “Don’t do anything that will bring about judgment when you reach the throne of heaven. Because, God can see and feel your disappointments of your life and can fix them in that place, but he will not withhold his wrath from one who seeks to destroy with violence others for wrongs real or perceived done to them.” Another mentor of mine once told me, in more simple terms, “Living well is life’s best revenge!” I’ve tried to live by that rule, but it’s hard.
Recently I lashed out at a person who probably didn’t deserve it, but nevertheless damaged my tender pride with an uncaring form letter and a clerical error. I was unkind, but at least I didn’t let my anger get the best of me fully. My letter was terse and short and I’m grateful for that. I’m sure it will come to nothing and it didn’t make me feel any better. At least it was only a letter, petty though it was, and not something more serious, something I would be held accountable for in that day when I am standing in front of the throne of the Righteous Judge.
How uncomfortable will be on that day, when all our lives in every detail are played out on HD video. And the Accuser will be there to point out every wrong we’ve done to others and every hurt we committed, unintentional and purposeful. Will the Advocate, Jesus, stand for me? Or will I face the accusations alone?
I am reminded of Job, the character of the Bible and the second most painful book in that text. Job fell on hard times, tested by God and afflicted by the Devil, yet he remained faithful to his maker the whole time, though others encouraged him to curse God and die. At the end of that book, Job addresses God with his grievance and God answers. And Job is silent, because there can be no answer to God, who his Holy and powerful. Job doesn’t open his mouth, but only listens and God pronounces his judgment. And God, when he is done, rewards Job, not because he was righteous and faithful, but because he surrenders to God’s omnipotence and Holiness. What was taken from Job was returned to Job in his lifetime, even more than he had in the first place, before all the trouble.
As I sit stewing about the wrongs done to me in this life I remember Job. I also remember what it says in the 23rd Psalm: thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of The Lord, forever.”
Here is my prayer to The Lord, take the shot gun of anger and hate from my hand and fulfill your promise to me to bless me in this life and the next. Don’t let me wallow in self pity for wrongs done to me. That is to be expected of people who do not believe in you. Forgive the wrong I’ve done to others and overlook my shortcomings. Rather, guide me to be as your Son was, gentile and kind to everyone, showing malice towards no one, and worthy to be your disciple, leading as many as I am able to your love.
So be it.