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  • Shawn Thornton

Worse Than Angry Birds

Monday - June 29th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Ecclesiastes 7:8-9

Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 6:5-18

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,

For anger resides in the bosom of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NASB)


Over Father's Day weekend, Lesli and I visited our daughter Katie and her roommate, Miranda, in Chicago. At the last minute, our son, Jon, decided to join us and got a last-minute ticket from New York City to Chicago. We enjoyed the weekend together. Chicago was just beginning to emerge from the Coronavirus stay-at-home order as businesses were reopening. It was a beautiful weekend in the Windy City.

One morning we decided to take an architectural sight-seeing boat tour up the Chicago River and its various branches. The tour boat launched from Chicago's famous Navy Pier. After parking, Jon and Katie quickly went ahead of us to make sure we knew where to meet the boat and ensure that we would not miss our scheduled departure. Lesli, Miranda, and I approached where we thought we would most likely meet up with Jon and Katie. We caught a glimpse of Jon running as fast as he could from one area on the pier to another. That seemed a bit odd. But, we kept walking toward where we thought Katie would still be. Jon showed up closer to us, warning us to go around a specific spot on the sidewalk. We could not figure out what was wrong, but he was unquestionably telling us to steer clear of that area.

Once we had gone around the area about which he had warned us, Jon and Katie told us how Jon had been under attack from a bird. Completely out of breath and with laughter mixed with concern, the two described to us how a big black bird with red-tipped wings had launched an all-out attack on Jon. Apparently, Jon inadvertently had gotten too close to a nesting area of what we now know was a male Red-Winged Blackbird and his family. The bird began squawking, screeching, and attacking Jon's hair and head. It chased him away while swooping down to grab his hair. That explained why we caught a glimpse of him running at full-speed from one end of Navy Pier to the other.

By this point, Jon and Katie were relaying what had happened with laughter and so much so they were tearing up while trying to tell how Jon had responded. They could barely get the whole story out. Their laughter became infectious as all five of us were utterly engulfed in laughter.

After a little bit of Googling, Jon discovered that the attacking bird was indeed the Red-Winged Blackbird. The males are notorious for angrily defending their breeding and nesting area. Many public places and businesses even have to hang signs to warn people about the birds. Talk about Angry Birds!

After a little more research on these Blackbirds, I discovered that several researchers say that the males seem to be eager for something or someone to get close so they can attack. It reminded me of what Pastor Brian Howard taught from Matthew 5:21-26 on Anger at Calvary this weekend. Anger can so quickly hurt the people we love the most and destroy critical relationships in our lives. Unfortunately, in my experience, there are too many people who seem eager to get angry. They live right on the edge of taking out their frustration and emotion on someone who crosses a little too close to their path.

The New American Standard Bible provides the most precise and accurate translation of the Hebrew original of Ecclesiastes 7:9. It says, "Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools." Do you have more than merely a short fuse? Has anger taken up so much space in your heart that you are eager to be angry? When we have a deep problem with anger, our belly is full of rage - ready to be unleashed on the most unexpecting of people.

Maybe you don't literally screech or squawk. Perhaps you don't physically swoop down on someone. Does that bird attacking Jon in rage provide a good picture of your anger - a fit of anger eager to be unleashed?

Confess the rage in your heart to God. Ask Him to bring you peace internally. If you say, "Shawn, I have tried that, and it doesn't seem to bring any sense of calm to my heart or mind," reach out to a Christian friend. Ask that friend to pray with you about the anger with which you wrestle. As you include your friend in your journey with this, you might need that person to walk with you as you reach out to a pastor or counselor who can help you get to the source of that anger and deal with it.

Angry birds are one thing. Angry spouses, parents, co-workers, siblings, neighbors, and friends are a whole other problem. They are worse than angry birds because real relationships get destroyed, and people get hurt.

If you find yourself eager to be angry, God wants to help you find relief and peace. Look to Him!

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