Father, I acknowledge that I’ve held resentment and bitterness against (name). I confess this as
and ask You to forgive me. I forgive (name). Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask You to also forgive (name) . Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.
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About a week ago, I received an email from a reader. She saw my post on overcoming disappointment, and she asked if I could help her. She is suffering in an unbearably unjust situation, and she is angry and resentful at the person causing it.
I can’t share her whole story, but the details are unimportant. Your anger and resentment are as real and honest and justified as hers are. They’re understandable.
And she’s looking for answers, just like you are.
I prayed about this woman and her family, and I prayed for you. I prayed that God would give me the words to help both of you.
My therapist says that anger is always masking a more vulnerable emotion. I think it’s helpful to look at that more vulnerable emotion and to deal with that, but you can come back to that later. For now, let’s just talk about the anger and resentment you’re feeling.
12 Bible Verses & 5 Steps to Overcoming Anger and Resentment
Concrete steps make sense to me. Give me a numbered list, and I’m a happy camper. So I created a numbered list for you.
Following the steps isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. The steps are where the real work lies. I am praying that you are challenged by these steps, and that you find a way to get through them all.
- Control your temper. (Let’s start right away with the hard stuff!)
When people mistreat us and there’s nothing we can do about it, we get angry. It isn’t fair. Parents see it in their young children who are constantly on the lookout to make sure everything is fair.
The gut reaction to get angry in the face of unfairness never really goes away. God’s Word says that we are to control our tempers, even in the face of unfairness.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. -Proverbs 19:11
Earn respect. What if the respect of men isn’t what you’re after?
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. -James 1:19-20
The righteousness God desires. Ouch. We may be able to brush off the respect of men, but the righteousness of God doesn’t go away so easily.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. -Luke 6:31
When we overlook wrongs, we treat others the way we want to be treated. But what if the wrong is something really big? What if we can’t just get over it?
We still have choices. If the wrong is something monumental – abuse, neglect, criminal – then DO SOMETHING. Don’t just get angry, but take action. Enlist the help of someone who can stop it.
The reader who wrote to me has endured her situation for five months. Certainly, she has been slow to anger. But now, she is angry.
2. Don’t let your anger control you. God recognizes that sometimes, we do get angry. Often, we need to get angry to remedy a situation or to spur us on to action.
Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. -Psalm 4:4
He is saying to think about your situation, and see if it merits getting angry.
Are you saying something like, “YES! It does! I have a right to be angry. Is that wrong?”
Being angry isn’t a sin, but being controlled by anger is a sin.
And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27
So you’re angry. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Find a way to work out the anger, pray through the anger, move past the anger before you give the devil an in-road to your psyche.
Need a pick-me-up? Go do something kind for someone. Volunteer your time. Do good, forgetting about the person who’s made you angry for a while.
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm. -Psalm 37:8
All scriptures are God-breathed, right? Every word is true. So what of this? Stop being angry?! How do you just stop?
3. You pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for the person who is making you angry. Pray for the situation. Pray that your heart will be softened and you’ll forgive.
People can’t change people. Only God can change people.
Right now, you need to be changed, and the person who’s hurt you needs to be changed. Give yourself permission to just focus on you for now. Ask God to change you and get rid of your anger despite the rotten situation you’re in.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. -Colossians 3:8, 12-13
You are holy and beloved, my friend. You are, and you deserve better than what this anger and resentment are doing to you.
4. Forgive. I said these steps weren’t going to be easy. Pray that you can forgive the person who’s making you angry. Pray it every day, every hour, every minute if you have to.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:31-32
It’s the Golden Rule again. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat the person who’s made you angry with the same tenderhearted kindness that you treat your kids with.
I heard once that holding unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness is toxic to your soul. It affects every part of your life, and it manifests in sickness, in tension, and in anger.
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. -Luke 6:37
We are required to forgive as the Father has forgiven us. It is not optional – and it does not come easily.
5. Love. Forgiveness is one thing, but loving is another thing entirely. Loving your enemy – the very person who’s hurt you – is also required by scripture.
Not suggested, required.
The very thought makes me feel sick for you.
You don’t want to act in a loving way towards the person who’s hurt you. Not at all.
That’s where prayer comes in again. Pray that you’ll have compassion and kindness for that person. (And keep praying it until it happens.)
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. -Luke 6:35
This passage goes on to say that even sinners are kind to those who love them, but it takes something special to be kind to an enemy.
You see, we don’t get to have vengeance. It’s not ours; it’s God’s alone. We are called to love God and love one another, the end.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;I will pay them back,”says the Lord.
Instead, If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.In doing this, you will heapburning coals of shame on their heads.
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. -Romans 12:17-21
You see, Jesus didn’t just die for you, my righteous friend. He died for the person who’s hurt you, too. He loves both of you the same. It doesn’t seem fair (there’s a parable about that), but it is so.
Jesus died for both of you because you’re both sinners.
Different stories, different sins, same black marks.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
Download these Bible verses on anger and resentment in a convenient black and white printable below. You can work on memorizing and meditating on them, one at a time.
If you need help with a system for memorizing verses, check out this post on our family’s memorization habit.
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Lately I’ve been assisting Jesus in healing anger, bitterness and resentment in people who struggle to be free of them. I say “assisting Jesus” because unlike physical healing which can be done by exercising the authority He gave us, the approach I use for emotional healing doesn’t require the use of power or authority. It requires Jesus to be present and to do the healing himself.
The approach I use is easy and effective and it puts me in a passive role. Unlike with physical healing or deliverance where I may need to go after a stubborn disease or demon, emotional healing is a hands-off affair. I ask a few questions and sit back as Jesus does his work of healing anger and other emotions and integrates alters and fragments.
I’ve seen some patterns in the kind of trauma people suffer. Most of the women I pray with have suffered various forms of sexual abuse. Most of the trauma seems to happen before the age of 6 years old, but sometimes it occurs later. As we mature, we develop stronger coping mechanisms, which is why there seems to be less trauma when we become adults. (That’s not to say that sexual abuse is less common in adults, but rather, the way in which our mind processes it changes as we grow older.)
Another cause of trauma is verbal abuse from family members. Nearly everyone I’ve prayed with has expressed painful memories stemming from the hurtful things a parent or sibling has said to them. This type of trauma creates feelings like anger, bitterness and resentment which, if not healed, can follow us the rest of our life.
There’s an old saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” When you start working with people who have been emotionally traumatized, you understand just how absurd this idea is. Hurtful words may not leave marks on the skin, but they can turn the soul into a junk pile of festering wounds that will soon be exploited by demons. If you have children, and if you really want to protect them from the schemes of the enemy, you would be wise never to speak harshly toward them. It’s easier to keep a child emotionally healthy than it is to fix a broken adult.
Today I helped a woman who was referred to me by a mutual friend who has a lot of painful memories. I asked her pick one and tell me the emotions she felt and Jesus healed her. Then she picked another and He healed that one. (For those who are wondering: No, I’ve never seen Him manifest physically during a healing session.) We went through the healing process in quick order and Jesus did His usual brilliant work, healing anger, bitterness and other negative emotions and then something unexpected happened.
I said, “Pick another memory.”
She replied, “Being ostracized by the body of Christ. So many people have come against me.”
“Okay. When you think about how people have done that to you over the years, what emotions do you feel?”
“Hurt resentment, anger, bitterness.”
As I had done before, I told her to give the emotions to Jesus and ask for His healing. When I asked her recall the events again, the same emotions were present, which is very strange. Normally, emotions don’t return after they’ve been healed. Then she said, “But this time the feelings are connected to a particular person.” I had her give the emotions connected to that person to Jesus. She asked Him to heal the wounds in her soul and she said, “I receive your healing.” I asked her to recall the event one more time and tell me what she felt.
I rejoiced with her that the damage had been reversed. Healing anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred is not a complicated process.
After the session was over, I felt a sense of grief over the fact that she’d suffered this trauma at the hands of other believers. I know they didn’t understand the impact their words had at the time, but the things they said caused serious damage to her soul.
Can our words can really be that damaging?
It’s often through trauma caused by careless words that alters and fragments are formed in our soul. They act as a protective mechanism, but it’s these alters and fragments that fall prey to demons. The more alters and fragments that are present in our soul, the more opportunity there is for the enemy to harass us. Demons are the voices we hear that tell us to harm or kill ourselves. In an indirect way, the words that we speak to others have the potential to kill them.
It’s been said that the church is the only army that kills its own wounded. I can’t say if that’s true, but I do know we can learn to heal our own wounded. Even better is to prevent emotional wounds from happening in the first place. We can do that by carefully guarding our words.
Emotional Healing: Fragments and Alters
How We Cause Emotional Trauma to Children
If you’d like to learn more about emotional healing, you might check out my e-book Emotional Healing in 3 Easy Steps.
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