A Testimony by Robert
Robert struggled with anger and rage in his life for 30 years. He already knew why he was filled with anger and rage, but head knowledge did not help him find freedom, despite his father being dead for years.
Choosing to say the words “I forgive you dad,” and anger management groups didn’t help much either. As Jesus revealed the shame and powerlessness keeping his anger and rage alive, He also released Robert and set him free. Because Robert is a strong-willed “Type A” personality, he decided to test the healing and freedom Jesus gave him to make sure it was really true. While we did not know he was going to do this, it just confirmed the power of Jesus to heal him and set him free at a deeper level. It’s one thing when Robert says he is different. When his wife calls to ask for prayer for herself because of the changes in her husband, it brings a greater testimony to Jesus and the power of His “peace that passes understanding.”
Jesus led Robert from the sinful “fruit” of anger and rage through:
I was not sure what to expect from the prayer time, other than knowing I had a problem with anger and rage. Knowing it had to do with being angry at my father for the way he beat me and beat my mother didn’t help me to find freedom. Burying my dad years earlier when he passed away didn’t bury all the negative thoughts and feelings, they were still very much alive. Saying the words “I forgive you dad” over and over again hadn’t brought freedom either, despite seeking help from counseling and men’s anger management groups.
Through Psalm 109 I learned how King David was completely honest about his anger and rage with the Lord, how he shared all of his feelings with the Lord in prayer. As he moved through the anger, sharing the pain in his heart that was driving his anger (Psalm 109:22), bringing his brokenness to the Lord, he found healing and freedom.
We began the prayer time by asking Jesus to search my heart and try my thoughts (Psalm 139:23-24) to take me to the root of my anger and rage and everything keeping it alive.
The first time we prayed, a lot of memories came up where I had been angry at my dad for being so controlling with his physical and verbal abuse to the family. I did not ask God to help me get over my anger as I’ve done in the past, only to fail again. Instead we went through a prayer where I asked God to release me from all my anger, confessing and acknowledging that I could not set myself free. I had not cried in 17 years either but tears flowed as we moved through the painful memories. While it was a draining process I felt like a huge burden was being lifted from me. The cross of Christ was becoming more personal to me in a whole new way than I had ever known before.
After meeting to pray again, we went through more anger and rage, moving to the fear, pain and shame behind it. I saw how I had been using anger and rage as a defense mechanism, to present a tough guy image to world so I would not be hurt again, I realized how I believed I was powerless.
A pattern developed where I would feel powerless, then go to anger and rage so I wouldn’t have to feel powerless, I wouldn’t have to feel helpless, I wouldn’t have to feel shame. While I was no longer powerless anymore as an adult, especially after my father passed away years before, my belief that I was powerless led me to act as if I was powerless, keeping me in bondage. My past was controlling my life in the present, impacting my wife and children as well.
As I surrendered anger and rage as a defense mechanism, as a way to protect myself from feeling powerless, along with the fear, pain and shame behind it, I finally felt true freedom for the first time. I could see and experience what it meant to “forgive from my heart,” (Matthew 18:35), experiencing the power of Christ to give me security in my heart. That is real power.
Shortly before Jesus set me free I wondered out loud if we should stop for the day because I was feeling tired. I was encouraged to ask the Lord to “search my heart and try my thoughts” to see if this was the time to stop or if this was a deception from the “father of lies.” After saying that short prayer I had a strong sense we needed to keep going and 10 minutes later I was free!
The devil was making one last attempt to keep me in bondage, to listen to his lies. Fortunately I listened to the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit instead.
My wife noticed such a difference in the weeks following that she called to ask for prayer for herself because she wanted that kind of healing to touch her heart as well!
Our third meeting was focused on praising God instead of praying about anger because it was all gone. I shared that I was driving down the road a few days after the last prayer time when I decided to apply my strong willed, “Type A” personality, to test the healing and freedom I had experienced. I intentionally brought up experience after experience we had prayed through, still knowing what my dad had done. But Jesus had truly released all the anger, shame and pain from these memories, leaving nothing but the power of His peace.
Not being easily persuaded and still wanting to test the depths of my healing, I gripped the steering wheel as hard as I could, trying to generate the all-to-familiar anger and rage I’d always carried towards my dad. Despite nurturing these thoughts and feelings for years and years, and trying to find them once they were gone, the power of Jesus’ peace went so deep I could not resurrect them even when I tried to.
Do I still have others areas in my life where I need to continue growing? Definitely. But Jesus has complete ownership of the room in my heart called anger, rage and powerlessness.
Now I know how Jesus can “cut the tree down at the root” fully and completely. I not only gained healing and freedom after years in counseling and men’s anger management groups, I now have a way to continue praying, bringing other area’s of brokenness to Him, sharing my heart with Jesus’ heart as I continue to grow in God’s grace.
Praise God for a Savior who not only saves us, but doesn’t leave us living on a sin-and-forgiveness treadmill where we try and fail, try and fail, try and fail over and over again, confessing our sins but never being free from them. Instead He graciously sets us free all the negative beliefs, thoughts and feelings towards those who have hurt us, replacing them with the power of His presence and His peace.