A study conducted by Concordia University in Montreal, Canada concluded that anger causes more serious health problems in old age than sadness or loneliness.
The researchers stated that anger causes inflammation in the body, and though it can have beneficial results in the short term, long-term inflammation can lead to serious health consequences.
The team studied 226 older adults broken up by age into two groups, 59 years to 79 and those 80 years and older.
The researchers then asked them a series of questions daily for a week about the levels of anger and sadness they were experiencing. They then used blood tests to determine the levels of inflammation in their body and as well asked them about any chronic illnesses they were going through.
From their study, the researchers concluded that for those over the age of 80, there was a link between levels of anger and poor health:
Speaking on behalf of the research team, Carsten Wrosch said:
“We found that experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 years old and older, but not for younger seniors. Sadness, on the other hand, was not related to inflammation or chronic illness.”
Anger is a normal, natural emotion and we all go through it. In fact, the Apostle Paul writes:
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26 NASV).
There are things that make us angry and being angry is not a sin. In fact, Jesus was angry when the pharisees criticized the healing of a man’s hand on the sabbath (Mark 3:4, 5).
But notice how Paul adds that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. In other words we need to deal with it quickly. Forgive those who have angered us, because if we don’t a root of bitterness will begin to develop inside us (Hebrews 12:15). When that happens we can enter a state where anger is continually brooding beneath our emotional surface.
So what are the telltale signs of a root of bitterness?
- When our anger exceeds the situation.
- When we focus on the individual instead of the incident.
- When the anger is sparked by our pride. When we think what is happening causes us to look bad (James 1:19-21).
All these factors were at play in the parable of the slave who was overseeing part of the vast financial empire of his master. This was a huge responsibility and slaves were typically used to do this. However, when the master called for an accounting, the slave ended up about $1 million short (Matthew 18:23-35).
At that point, the master was ready to sell off his family and throw the slave in prison. However, when the slave pleaded for mercy, the master completely forgave his servant.
Now you don’t lose $1 million without some bad things happening. Bad investments, fraud, loans not being repaid and when the man found a fellow servant who had borrowed the equivalent of $250, we read that the slave who had been forgiven much was literally strangling the man and ended up having him thrown into debtor’s prison (Matthew 18:28-30).
The explosion of anger over a paltry $250 and the focus on the individual instead of the debt was the indicator of a root of bitterness. The slave was not punishing his fellow servant over $250, but rather the million of dollars that others had taken. And pride was all playing a role in this because he had once been a big wig in the master’s family.
So how do we deal with this anger and bitterness controlling our lives. One of the important things we need to do is forgive those who have hurt and offended us.