Ripple Effects of Unbridled Emotion

“The people of Israel came into the wilderness of Zin… And Miriam died there and was buried there.

“Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron… ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought [us] into this wilderness, that we should die here..? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.’ Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink…’ Moses took the staff, as he commanded.

“Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and said, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’” Numbers 20:1-12

God loved Moses too much to allow his emotions to run unchecked and cause a ripple effect of destruction in Israel. Following Miriam’s death, and the startling consequence for his outburst at the whining congregation, Moses was denied his polite request for passage through Edom. Then Aaron, his only remaining sibling, died. More reason for anger, self-pity, sorrow. The Lord would persevere to test and train him in self-control and God-dependence. (Numbers 20:13-29)

Irritation, anger, bitterness, self-loathing, when unchecked, can all lead to dangerous places of mind and habit. The passions fueled by idolatry, pride, and even exhaustion are equally as destructive. Sarcasm, rage, fear, and numb inaction can grow and poison any attempt at fruit-filled living. Emotions-gone-wild insidiously reverberate in words and actions we cannot retrieve, and spread their circles of dark influence over hearts, relationships, and lives. Only the Lord can expose the root of our emotions and redeem the mess they make. (Proverbs 15:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:31)

What triggers cause us the most trouble? A sudden loss of control over a person or situation? Antagonism, criticism, or sarcasm that stung me? Fatigue that makes it hard to tighten the spigot on critical or caustic words? Fear that freezes me from being healthfully vulnerable? Have I kept my pain hidden, become smug in controlling my temper, but unwittingly allowed hatred to fester? When tempers flare, depression looms, or quarrels arise, what passions have we let run amok to wreak havoc in our minds? What will I do to avoid these impetuses and correct my proclivities before God? With whom need I make things right? (James 4:1-2)

Father, purify every emotion, and control them for good. Please help me do what I can to stem the ripple effects of hurtful actions through genuine repentance, and returning kindness, mercy, grace, and love.

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