A few years ago I went to see the movie "One Night with the King," the story of Queen Esther.
I found most of its story adaptations acceptable. I also learned one of those obvious facts that had never occurred to me before.
Jews had encountered Agagites before. When God gave King Saul the job of killing all of the Amalakites. Saul didn't follow the instructions--completely: he didn't kill the king, Agag. "He captured Agag, king of Amalek, alive." (1 Samuel 15:7)
Maybe God had Haman in mind when he gave Saul the order. In the movie, we see Agag's pregnant wife escaping. No wonder Haman hated a man from the people who had tried to commit genocide. (Yeah, we discussed that awhile back, how the wholesale elimination of different peoples offends our modern sensibilities and what we can learn from it.) He wanted to return the favor.
I love the way the translators phrased it. When Haman saw for himself that Mordecai didn't bow down and kneel before him, he was outraged. Meanwhile, having learned that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman hated to waste his fury on just one Jew; he looked for a way to eliminate not just Mordecai but all Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. (Esther 3:5-6)
Haman "hated to waste his fury."
Hmm, I didn't know fury could be used, let alone wasted. Aside from giving a person an adrenalin rush to accomplish extraordinary physical deeds, anger hinders me from accomplishing my goals. I learned ago that bitterness (which is unresolved anger, isn't it?) only hurts me, not the person I'm angry with. Of course, I shouldn't repress anger either, but that's a different lesson.
Of course I'm working under a New Testament maxim, don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Agag saw it as an opportunity to move up in the king's favor at the same time as he could get rid of an ancient enemy. He could satisfy a long-standing feud with a plausible excuse--the opportunity his family had been waiting for for hundreds of years.
He served a king who had divorced his queen for disobeying an order. Xerxes understood the importance of honor and obedience--and Mordecai denied Haman both by refusing to bow before him. (note to self: Mordecai was obeying the law not to bow before anything other than God.)
The anger Haman unleashed against an entire people, God's people, no less, boomeranged back to him. Not only were the Jews saved from extinction, but Haman died on the gallows he had built for Mordecai.
Beware of your anger. Don't repress it--depression can be awful--but find a way to process it. I would welcome your suggestions on how to do that.
My most recent experience with bad anger came earlier this year, when I learned that the man who had stolen my heart was already married.
At first, I was too numb and shocked to react. Eventually the anger surfaced. I dealt with it by confronting the man with my feelings of betrayal. Why didn't you tell me you were married? His response didn't matter, to me. What mattered was my telling him, in my calm and controlled manner, why he had upset me so.
Something worked. He stopped eating with me.
This is one time I believe we can learn from sharing each other's stories. Either of successfully handling anger--and going the other direction and mentioning times you held on to it, with bad consequences. I've got a few of those, believe me.