One of my favorite past-times is watching the sun go down with my family. It’s good to slow down and reflect on the events of the day. On our last post, we discussed the positive side of memory and sleep. But now we need to understand some of the negative aspects of our mind and memory as we lay our heads down for rest. As I was watching the sun sink over the horizon yesterday an old adage came to mind.
Don’t let the sun set on an ectopic pregnancy.” The cliché had no meaning until I saw a patient almost bleed to death in medical school. Once I saw the consequences of a missed ectopic pregnancy, I understood.
At the end of the day a doctor must be certain to exclude all life-threatening possibilities.
Here’s something potentially more dangerous than letting the sun set on an ectopic pregnancy.
Anger should be addressed with diligence before the day ends.
“In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the Devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
The science of sleep:
Neuroscience continues to confirm the importance of sleep on our memory. As we sleep our brain works overtime to organize, process and store data. Our Creator, who elegantly fashioned the sleep physiology of our brains, understood the importance of dealing with certain issues before we sleep.
Paul encourages us not to let the sun set on our anger. If we don’t address our anger before we sleep then our brain begins the natural process of embedding it into our memory. What begins as an isolated angry thought at bedtime can ultimately be internalized angry habits when we awake.
Once anger entrenches in our brains, our adversary has the “foothold” he desires. Instead of renewing our minds (Rom 12:2), we allow our adversary to use our own sleep physiology against us. Like a virus that’s accidently downloaded to the hard drive of a computer, anger is much easier to deal with before it becomes rooted in our minds. Deal with your anger issues before your eyes close in slumber.
Anger is a natural response to the hurts and injustices that bombard us on a day-to-day basis. Someone once said: “He that would be angry and sin not, must not be angry with anything but sin.” But honestly, our blood boils because of the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves and others—not because of some righteous anger. The challenge for the exasperated is to be angered with the right motive, timing, purpose and degree.
Of all the human emotions, anger seems to have the greatest effect on grieving the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Ephesians 4:30). Have you ever considered the influence of anger on every expression of the fruit of the Spirit? Anger is the enemy of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. That’s why Paul subsequently admonishes us “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
How do we deal with anger before the sun goes down?
- Meditation the ill effects of anger: Proverbs 19:11, 15:18; James 1:19; Psalm 37:7-8.
Meditate on verses that focus on renewing the mind and apply them specifically to own anger issues: Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-4.
- Be still.Give God the opportunity to apply justice to those who have offended you—His way and in His time. Ask God to heal those hurts that surface as you rest.
In so doing you will invite the Great Physician to your bedside. Surrender your sleep. He has the remedy for your anger. Allow Him to begin the process of healing before your eyes close in slumber.