A Psalm for When I am Angry

The global response to the Novel Corona Virus of 2020 significantly and dramatically altered the lives of virtually every person on the planet.

From my perspective, our planet is in psychological shock.  The following is from a March 2018 Psychology Today article by Alice Boyes, PhD.

Psychological shock is when you experience a surge of strong emotions and a corresponding physical reaction, in response to a (typically unexpected) stressful event.   

The types of events that can trigger psychological shock reactions include:

  • A car accident or near miss.
  • Being broken up with.
  • Your child having an accident or near miss.
  • Situations that provoke fear, such as being in an airplane with severe turbulence.
  • Witnessing something scary.
  • Hearing a story that makes you feel traumatized, such as learning a friend’s child has drowned.
  • Consuming a news stories that provokes a trauma reaction, such as hearing a story about people being separated from their children. 
  • Getting sued or some other financial related stressor.
  • Being stopped by the police.
  • Being at the dentist.

What are the symptoms of psychological shock?

  • The hallmark symptom of shock is feeling a surge of adrenalin.  
  • You may feel jittery or physically sick, like you’re going to vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Your mind will likely feel very foggy, or like you can’t think straight.
  • Your chest may feel tight.
  • You may feel a disconnection from what’s happening, like you’re watching a movie of events unfolding rather than actually being there.
  • You may feel intense anger and want to scream or yell—for example, if your child is injured while someone else is supposed to be watching them.
  • You may feel like you want to run.

This talk is designed as a conversation about the possibility of the intense anger a person may experience as part of possible psychological shock.

Psychological shock is when you experience a surge of strong emotions and a corresponding physical reaction, in response to a (typically unexpected) stressful event. 

Elyssa Barbash, PhD, stated, “As a trauma specialist, it is exceedingly clear to me just how traumatic this situation is for nearly every single person in the world.”

In many ways, Israel’s book of hymns and poems addresses every season of one’s life.  We are pursuing the Psalms for every season and time addressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-7.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

This is a season of unprecedented global change.  The near sudden speed of almost total life interruption is accompanied by a variety of deep emotions.

  • ïGrief – the proper response to loss
  • ïAnger – the proper response to injustice 
  • ïSorrow – the proper response to disappointment

The holy and inspired Word of God addresses unwanted life change, disappointing loss, traumatic experiences, injustice, sorrow and shock.

Psalm 137 may be helpful to us in this season and time.

137 By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
ïBabylon isn’t their home.  They are captives living in exile.  The river Jordan is their river, not the waters of Babylon. ïSitting is the posture of official mourning. ïWeeping is the soul’s deep response to loss. ïRemembering reveals the distance between what is and what should be.
On the willows there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song
    in a foreign land?
ïThey literally “hung up” their song.  They silenced their song. ïThe “hung up” song is a response to captors and tormentors mockingly requiring “songs of Zion.” ïWe will not pretend. Everything isn’t ok.   ïWe won’t sing temple songs following your destruction of the temple. ïWe won’t sing God’s glorious song amid your ungodly idols.
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
    down to its foundations!”
ïThey express the GIGANTIC danger of losing the memory of the way it should be. ïMay my voice be silenced if I do not remember you, God and your holy city, Jerusalem. ïMay I not forget…..AND Lord, do not forget the wickedness with which we have been treated.  As they destroyed Jerusalem with their “song,” “Lay it are, lay it bare, down to its foundations.”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
    blessed shall he be who repays you
    with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!
ïRaging anger is expressed… ïDoomed to be destroyed ïBlessed is the person who repays you WITH what you have done to us! ïBlessed is he who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

The 137th Psalm reveals the great value in truthfully, understanding, experiencing and expressing our deepest emotions WITH God.

Understanding my emotions is necessary and good. Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Experiencing my emotions is necessary and good.  Ecclesiastes 3:4

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Expressing my emotions TO God is necessary and good.  Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.