Sometimes, I can be an angry mom.

I get angry when my kids don’t listen to me, or when they choose foolishness over truth, or when someone hurts their hearts. I get angry when someone takes advantage of their weakness.

I get angry when, in a completely hypothetical example, my child leaves a giant project at home on presentation day. For the second time. In the space of two months. cough cough yesterday.

Some of my anger is righteous, and some of it is very, very not. cough cough yesterday. That’s because some parts of me reflect the nature of God and submit themselves to the work of the Spirit, and some parts of me are still putting up a Vegas-sized fight.

In Colossians 3:5, Paul challenges believers to rid themselves of a whole host of sins — idolatries, really — ways in which we worship ourselves and our lives and our pleasures here instead of the great God who has rescued us for His glory.

And then in verse 6 — almost as an afterthought — comes this short and chilling note:

On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

I don’t want to write about the wrath of God. I don’t even like to think about it. But God’s wrath is not just Old Testament news. It is real, and it is being revealed even now on the earth, and it is a holy part of His character and glory — not one particle less righteous than His love and justice and faithfulness.

Three unexpected truths about God’s wrath:

God’s wrath is the door to our healing.

Imagine I know I am ill. I have no idea exactly what’s wrong, but I walk into the nearest hospital and demand surgery, chemo, antibiotics, CPR, psychiatric therapy and a bed in the labor and delivery ward.

It sounds crazy, but this is how we live — sick at heart and suffering from the effects of God’s response to sin without knowing the reason why. We stagger around from false hope to temporary fix, hoping to be made well.

But God’s righteousness defines what unrighteousness is, and His wrath against sin cannot let us find completion apart from His perfection. We are all experiencing the symptoms of His curse against a sinful world — suffering, unavoidable death, broken relationships, work that ends up being futile and pointless. His wrath has come so we will know He is the solution and here is not, because the very best thing God can give us is Himself.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7), because we must know our disease before we can find the proper cure.

God’s wrath is the key to our joy.

God is angry that sin has crushed the life out of us, caused us pain, and stolen the hearts of the ones His hands have made. He is righteously indignant that He created something beautiful and holy for His glory — you and me — and we have been soiled and spoiled by sin — used up and wasted for the glory of lesser loves.

Like the best of my anger for the hearts of my children, God is angry on our behalf, that we would be safe and know what is true and real. He is jealous for us to know deep peace and joy — to experience the riches of Him and eternity here and now. Acknowledging His wrathful and glorious fight against sin’s schemes to capture our hearts is an anchor – a prize. We have a righteously furious, rescuing hero whose name is THE LORD.

He will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.
Is 33:6-7

God’s wrath is the window to His kindness.

God’s righteous character cannot help but condemn unrighteousness. It would be impossible for Him to be truly good and not respond to what is bad. That is why these words of Jesus are as sweet as honey — as precious as jewels — as bright as the sun:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36

When we know what God’s only possible response to sin has brought — futility and suffering and death in the hopes of the world — His grace falls on dry hearts like sweet rain. God has made a way. He has turned futility into purpose and suffering into fellowship with Him and death into eternal life through belief in the Son. The gospel has set all things right, and God’s wrath has been outrun by His kindness and grace.

God’s wrath makes hope shine all the more — for us, and if we truly grasp it, for all those we know, even when part of us doesn’t want to talk about it:

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. 2 Corinthians 5:11