I’M ANGRY AT DEATH


Matt Stefan and Family

Matt Stefan and Family

I’m angry this morning.

I don’t normally wake up angry yet today I am.

A friend of mine who has influence and has influenced hundreds of adults and high school students died suddenly on July 4th of a brain aneurism.  Young, brilliant, creative and physical death captured him as he prepared for his day.

Funny thing is, Jesus is angry as well.  In fact, the morning that my friend died, my devotional reading was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus saw what death had done to Lazaraus’ family, the original language says that he was angry at it.  Many translations use the words “deeply moved” but the Greek says that it was an indignant anger.  Like when a horse snorts, that is what Jesus did (so the original language says).

Get that.  Jesus wasn’t angry at Lazarus’ family.  He wasn’t angry at the real or hired mourners or even that he chose to wait to visit.  Jesus is angry at death itself.  Angry that death causes pain.  Angry that death stirs up emptiness.  Angry that death shreds the emotional heart of people.  Jesus is angry at my friends death as well.

Yet death is necessary for life.  Death is glorious for those who know Jesus.  In fact, God says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”

I need to sit on that for a bit.  As much as I am angry, more so God is rejoicing and meet us in our sorrow.  Join me as pray for my friend’s family as I let the comfort of God’s Spirit quell my anger.

Peace!

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6 thoughts on “I’M ANGRY AT DEATH

  1. nancy haas says:

    All I know is that anger is part of the grief process. When my husband died at age 38 of a massive heart attack leaving a 9, 12, and 16 year old children and when my daughter Tammy was murdered 3 years later at the age of 19 I was not anger at God because I knew they were all in Heaven with him, but I was anger because children were without their Father at a young age, and a sister who would have been the only aunt of their Children was gone. It is because of sin these tragic things happen, and because of Jesus we will all see our loved ones again. I am not good at explaing things, but I hope somehow I did now. And Todd my heart does go out to you in your loss of your friend. God’s Blessings, Nancy

  2. Jakky says:

    Matthew Abeler, Todd is shocked and grieving. He just lost a friend and is rightfully upset. He’s also courageously sharing his feelings and trying to understand how to frame this loss in a way that fits his faith and allows others to connect their struggles with his. Now is not the time to let him know how wrong he is or how he can improve his scholarship. Please, show compassion by reaching out with comfort or, if you can’t do that, be silent and let others others do that healing work.

    • Matthew Abeler says:

      Todd, Jakky, Paul

      I was researching in Oxford when I wrote my comment below. My ego and scholarship apparently got the better of me. I believe you are right in that I failed to recognize a moment to show compassion… pulling out a hebrew lexicon instead of encouraging words.

      I didn’t fall short of the reputation of Job’s infamous friends…

      Thank you to those who were courageous enough to challenge me.
      It was painful to read what I had written a few months ago.

      Matt

  3. Lynn Hagerman says:

    body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}Dear Todd,That story made me sad, knowing he had so much to look forward to with his wife and children.  But all of us will die and in many different ways.  It’s the young we grieve over, not the old.  How old was this precious young man? If Jesus can be angry then we can too.  Tell me about Maddie and Nate. We still miss you.Lynn

    • Matthew Abeler says:

      Todd, in order to present a credible argument of the case of Christ’s anger, you must look deeper and consider other perspectives and angles. Your first statement, “I’m angry this morning” is a highly emotional statement, and you claimed this anger was not “normal” in your daily routine. Be careful that emotions to do not sit in the driver’s seat in building an argument. They are important, but they often blur the message one is trying to get across. Lynn Hagerman replied to your post saying “If Jesus can be angry, then we can too.” Perhaps our anger is much different than Christ’s. Even appealing to Christ’s example is not always a good reason to justify our wishes. One who wished to forgive sins could make a similar claim stating “if Christ forgave sins, than I can to.” We must approach the authority of Christ as God’s son with awe and reverence, knowing that even his feelings stretch beyond what we can understand.

      I commend you for turning to the orginal Greek to explain your observations. However, the usages of Greek words are complex and need contextualization of other passages and a background of the culture they were used in. Though I am not a Greek master, I do know the words you are referring to are “tarasso” and “embrimaomai.” Both of these words have complex definitions beyond simple anger. “Embrimaomai” is often used as a warning or admonition. It is the word Jesus uses in Matthew 9 after healing a blind man and then strictly warning him not to tell anyone. Was Jesus “snorting like a horse” here? Was he angry at the blind man? It does not appear so in that context. This “warning” use of “Embrimaomai” does not fit well in the context of John 11. However, Matthew 9 is a fitting example that there are other definitions of the word besides anger. John actually uses this word in much different context than Matthew and Mark, so it is difficult to pinpoint what is actually meant. So then we look to the word “tarasso” for clarification. “Tarasso” also has a variety of definitions, but most refer to restlessness, anxiety, distress, agitation, and the striking of one’s spirit to fear and dread.

      There is more than simple anger involved here. Christ may have been filled with a righteous anger against death, but he appears by the definitions of “tarasso” to have a deep unsettling over death. This word is used frequently in the Gospel of John; in Jesus’ prediction that Judas will betray him, in his prediction of his death and resurrection, and in his discourse to the disciples before he is arrested. He urges the disciples not to fall under “tarasso” because he will bring peace and send the Holy Spirit to help them. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

      Maybe Jesus, in John 11, was looking ahead to his own death upon seeing Lazarus’ condition. He knew he had come to pay for humanity’s sins, and the inevitable solution was to die on the cross for them. His weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane in many ways mirrors his weeping over the death of Lazarus. Jesus was moved to a deep sadness, a severe grief for his friend Lazarus. And the next few verses compounds this with the simple phrase “Jesus wept.” He wept at the sight of Mary and the Jews grieving over Lazarus (11:33). But, If there was anger involved with Christ’s grieving, more questions arise.

      Anger usually has a receiver. If Christ was truly angry in John 11, what or who was he angry at? Was he angry that sin had caused death? Was he angry that he himself would have to die? Was he angry at satan for deceiving man into sinning? Was he angry at death, that it could eternally separate man from God? You claim Christ was angry at “death itself” because “death causes pain.” If so, why doesn’t Christ appear angry at his own death and suffering on the cross? He cries out to God, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Christ forgives his persecutors while on the cross, putting into practice his own sermon in Matthew 5, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

      It is easier to prescribe why Christ would have been troubled and driven to grief by Lazarus’ death in light of his companions grieving over Lazarus and in light of own death soon to come. But looking at this context it is harder to explain why Christ would have been angry.

      Todd and Lynn, I encourage you to grieve the death of “the young man” of who you speak, but to be at peace with what Christ allows. Anger towards death may be appropriate at some times, but remember that it is our rebellion against God that caused it. We chose death. Also, be wary of limiting the emotions of Christ to your own emotions. Our anger is often littered with sin, but Christ’s anger was always holy and righteous before God. Therefore, we should be even more grateful for the Gospel of Christ who presented before us an opportunity to inherit eternal life, where death does not have the final word.

      “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” John 14:27-28

      – Matthew

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