One of the ways we grow in our understanding of God, the world, and ourselves is through the gift of reading. Below is a review of the book Good & Angry by David Powlison. We hope that this review is helpful to you.
David Powlison’s Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness declares, “To get anger straight is to get your life straight.” From these words, he encourages readers to not only take a look at our anger, but he also exhorts us to address the root of our anger in order to transform our life. This book is a practical tool for every believer to better understand our own sin in this area. Powlison provides guidance in how to dig deeper to examine the patterns and root cause of anger, and how to actively cry to God for help.
While you might not consider yourself someone with an anger problem, when looking at personal experiences and expressions of anger, Powlison shows that everyone has an anger problem. The way anger is expressed might vary widely, but we are all angry.
While we commonly think of anger as a bad emotion, that is not always the case. Anger is a proper emotion to experiences of injustice, suffering, and sin. However, it is easy for us to excuse or condone every instance of our anger because “we usually experience our own anger as a sense of justified outrage” (33). In response to this, Powlison describes how anger can be deceptive because we confuse strands of truth for the whole truth and miss blind spots in our perception.
We tend to define anger by what we have experienced, but that is then based on bad anger or anger problems, which skews our definition. When examining the DNA of anger, Powlison defines it as, “active displeasure toward something that’s important enough to care about.” Anger says, “I’m against that” (39). Anger will always make a value judgment about a situation. As humans, we most often express and experience anger in sinful ways.
In contrast to sinful expressions of anger, Powlison introduces a name for good anger, which he calls “the constructive displeasure of mercy” (72). A right response to suffering and sin “involves a constructive mix of justified anger combined with mercy and active efforts to make true peace where there is trouble. The constructive displeasure of mercy traverses exactly the same ground as simple anger. But it’s on a different spectrum altogether” (73).
When all the circumstances and excuses are stripped away, the truth is that we fight because we don’t get what we want. We do not want God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done. We want our own kingdom to come and our own will to reign supreme. Powlison puts forward a question to ask yourself when these moments arise, “What exactly do you want right now that makes you warlike, when Christ’s rule would make you peaceable?” (136).
Throughout the entire book, the author uses probing questions, helpful examples, and Biblical truth to guide the reader through personal experiences with anger. These tools not only help the reader understand their struggles and sin, but they also show how God draws near to them when they cry for help.
Powlison wraps up the book with looking forward to the day when God’s anger will be justly poured out against the evil and injustice in the world. Anger will then be no more because sin will be no more. Beyond hope for the future, there is also hope for the present. We must “[t]ake God at his word. To get to the heart of conflict we must seek God. And if you seek, you will find. And you’ll change, because living faith can never prove fruitless” (147).
Good & Angry is a book that every adult should read. Powlison has the gift of not preaching at you, but talking with you. Powlison is an excellent guide through the many nuances of our own personal experiences and helpfully reorients the reader to the truth of God’s Word.