Finding the Humour in Rage
The other day, my two-year-old got mad.
I decided that his bath was over. He decided his bath was not over. I allowed him to bathe for a few minutes more but then – with his bed-time approaching – I decided to ignore his protests and do what I knew was best for him. My beautiful, cute, cuddly, gentle, innocent son absolutely flipped out!
He raged, he screamed. He turned red. He clenched his tiny fists. He tried to hit me. He yelled « no way, no way » (a favorite phrase in his limited repertoire of words) over and over, flinging his pajamas to the floor and loudly declaring that he was not going to allow me to dress him.
I should have punished him right then and there. We have been trying to take discipline very seriously, and this was a classic example of « foolishness » rearing its ugly head, needing to be disciplined out of him (Prov. 22:15). But I could not. I was failing at my parental duties for one simple reason: I could not stop laughing!
There was just something about a 30 pound human being, naked and dripping wet – the very picture of powerlessness – stomping and stamping and raging and declaring his sovereign rule over the bathroom, decrying a violation of his majesty’s will, an encroachment on his royal dignity, and a promise of stern retribution from the crown, for those daring to oppose his almighty will…
As I struggled to maintain my composure, Korban (my son) slid off of the change table, grabbed his pajamas and stormed angrily down the hall – his naked little feet leaving a trail of water as he went, and his pink hiney clenched in rage. He pulled out the dresser drawer and threw his pajamas back in, then tried pathetically to get it closed, but was unable. He tried over and over, becoming increasingly indignant and frustrated. Finally, when I could take no more I leaned down and closed the drawer. Korban forgot himself and cheered loudly, throwing his hands in the air…then he remembered he was supposed to be mad, and worked hard to regain his angry disposition – a feat not easy to do with me laughing so joyously and loudly at his expense!
Did you know that God laughs at our expense sometimes?
Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3« Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us! »
4He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
I could not help but think of the angry, sulking Jonah. Indignant at not having his way, his small ego wounded, his small kingdom crumbling around his ears – sitting pathetically on the hill-side, waiting in vain to see if he would have his way at last…his indignation climbing by the hour. I cannot help but think that God was laughing silently as he poked away at Jonah’s vine, as He took in stride the fumings of the rage-filled prophet. « Jonah, do you have a right to be angry? »
It is in His mercy that God laughs at our rage. He is merciful not to bend His good will to every loud demand of our angry tempers. Imagine what this world would be like if – like an out-of-control playground – God allowed the loudest and angriest children to rule the day! He is merciful too not to judge us instantly, but to allow us to go our way for a season, to rage and fume and simmer in the heat of our indignation. And He is merciful too to laugh at us.
I believe He laughs often, loudly, at our expense, and, at times – had we but ears to hear – He laughs in our very presence. He is no cruel God, but a God abounding in mercy. He longs for us to see ourselves as the pathetic, pink, naked, powerless, sopping-wet two-year-old that we are. He wants us to catch on to the joke, to laugh along with Him and to finally say, « Yeah, I guess I do look pretty silly when I get mad… »
Somehow, once we catch on to the joke, it becomes hard to remember exactly what all the fuss was about.