Four O’clock in the Morning
“In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” (Psalm 4:4)
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8)
Four o’clock in the morning – the time I am writing this. I wish that, in all I have read through the years, I had made note of all the references I have come across to “four o’clock in the morning”. There are many, and all of them speak of four a.m. as the darkest hour. It is the hour of evil and of restless anger and hurt. It is almost invariably a lonely hour when there is no one to speak to and nothing to be done but to stew in one’s own malevolent juices. It is an hour of great harm to us. The Swedish physician, Axel Munthe (1857 – 1949) in his moving best-selling autobiographical book, The Story of San Michele recalls that, in his medical work, most suicides occur at four a.m.. It is a hateful hour because our defenses against evil in our own hearts and minds are so weak and low.
Me, I awoke from a bad dream. And then I felt anger at a seeming irresolvable problem created by the stupidity of one man who two days ago did some very harmful things to me. He didn’t do these things out of ill will towards me, but his incompetence has irretrievably ruined something of mine and shall cost me. In my state somewhere between the bad dream and mounting thoughts about the harm that has been done to me (and there is no denying I have been materially harmed), I have arisen from bed feeling despairing hurt and the anger it generates. For a time – five or ten minutes – if the fellow in question were anywhere where I could get my hands around his imbecilic neck, I would have murdered him. I would have committed a grave sin, succumbed to a terrible evil, and met harm with a disproportionately greater harm. I would have done so to attempt to exorcise the vehement bile of anger in me.
My suffering was (for it is now 4:34 as I write this) indescribably intense. It is an emotion that, unless one feels it, one cannot know it. Maybe you don’t suffer this and it is an aberration of my hormones or of my all-too-male aggression. I can only say that at the peak time of four a.m. there seemed to be nothing but the pure evil of the anger.
I’ve felt this type of anger in the past, over mostly-forgotten slights, harms, and injustices. I recall too how sometimes, even though the blood-crazed stage eventually passes the anger remains as a festering sore for days, weeks, months, and in a few cases for me, years. But this time, I did something I have not done before. I stepped back from my worldly self, and focused on my spirit. I recognized my anger as evil, even as I felt its intensity, and realized that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t powerless against the evil that possessed me (and as over-the-top that description may sound, evil is what it was) because I had my God to turn to and to pray to. Not just: “I’m hurt, save me God”. Not just some little mental trick to distract myself. But a genuine feeling that my spirit has a place beyond my worldly hurt and anger. I know that there is an eternal part of my being that needn’t be sullied by hurt and the anger hurt causes, because my spirit cannot be hurt if I accept God’s love. I have let go of my anger and can smile. I cannot and need not rationally ‘explain’ this beyond my “Thanks be to God”.