If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault. Adults have a hard time with this idea so I won’t press the issue much with you. It’s a “stretch goal” for all of us to get to the place where we don’t whine about the mistakes we make.
Complaining is a form of anger so the best place to go to get God’s mind on whining is James 4:1 where he asked, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?”
The “why question” to your anger is an obvious one but I do wonder how obvious the answer is to you. James answered his own question when he asked,
Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. – James 4:1-2 (ESV)
He used the word “cause” twice in his first question to you. And like his half-brother, Jesus, he practiced the skill of redundancy to drive home his points (Luke 6:43-45). He really wants you to dial-in on the source of your anger.
He says if you are angry, it is not because the devil made you do it or because of your parents. James says your anger comes from your passions, desires, and coveting, a threefold circularity problem of the heart. Those words are synonyms with the word idol. An idol is something you want so badly that you sin (choose anger) to get it.
Then the angry person responds, “But they did wrong!!” And he is probably right. That is why I said in the first teen tip that our world is not a fair place. It’s a fallen place.
Then the angry person comes back with, “But I prayed. I asked God to take my problem away. It never goes away. God does not listen to me.” James had an answer for that too, and you might not like what he said next:
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3 (ESV)
God is always listening. He’s omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient (knows all things), so it’s not possible for Him to be deaf to your pleas. The good news about God is that He not just hears you but He knows the thoughts and intentions of your heart to boot (Hebrews 4:13). Imagine living with someone who hears you and knows the exact motive that is behind your requests. But there is more.
- He hears you.
- He perceives your motives underneath your requests.
- He knows exactly what you need. All the time.
God’s silence does not mean He’s inattentive to you. He’s all up in your life like nobody could be. Rather than looking outward as an explanation for what is going wrong in your life, the bigger question is what does your anger reveal about you. Sometimes not getting what you want is the perfect thing to shape you into the person you need to be.
Jesus ran into this “I’m not getting what I want” idea in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). He was struggling with dying but finally submitted His life to His Father. And that is your best play. You may or may not get what you want out of life but there is one thing you must do: submit your life to God.
I say this because there is one opponent you do not want to resist. James said it this way further down.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. – James 4:6
Call to action
- What does your anger reveal about you?
- What lesson should you learn when you don’t get what you want?
- Will you write our a specific and practical plan of how you will change? Will you share it with a trusted mentor?