When You’re Angry at God
I’ve been angry at God — on more than one occasion. I’ve had a couple of tantrums in my day — and I’ve known God a long time. That doesn’t change the fact that I have very human, carnal, runaway emotions that get the best of me. I get exasperated, frustrated, confused, and… well, angry.
Are you angry at God? Perhaps frustrated? Exasperated? Confused? Are you at complete odds with Him?
Well, let’s talk about it.
Because, we’re going to find that this is actually quite normal for human beings, and that His response to our anger, although misplaced, misdirected, and unjust, is actually very patient and even compassionate.
Evaluating Our Anger
The Bible does not condemn anger in itself. But people handle anger very differently. And you will find that anger is a very natural human emotion. There is an anger that is justified and righteous before God; an anger that can actually stimulate and motivate us toward justice and righteousness by exacting the will of God in a situation. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, and that is where we often lose the battle (see Ephesians 4:26-27).
God gets angry, too. But He is not easily angered (see Psalm 103:8). Although He’s very slow to anger, He does indeed get angry. To teach that He doesn’t get angry is simply not true. And we can see in the scriptures how He handled those instances where His anger was kindled. One of the most famous examples is when Moses was able to stay His anger away from Israel by interceding for them when God planned to destroy them. God wanted to scrap the whole nation and make a nation of Moses instead (see Deuteronomy 9:13-14). That didn’t happen, of course — but only because Moses pleaded with Him. There’s a deeper message here, but that is for another post.
Being angry at God can be a natural emotion when life seems so contrary to God’s will or best for us — especially when we’ve been obedient to follow Him. Dreams shatter. Hearts break. Lives are lost. Horrible things happen. In light of these circumstances, we are left powerless to change anything. We are left with nothing but… anger. And it’s completely human for our anger to be directed at God. However, it’s very counterproductive. Anger at God is not a righteous or justified anger. Therefore, the only remedy for that anger is to sort it out with God face to face — in vulnerable honesty and transparency with Him. If we’re not careful our anger at God can create a dangerous separation from Him, and even threaten to thwart His plan for our lives, endangering us spiritually.
You’re not going to surprise God if you confess your anger with Him.
He’s just waiting for you to get it out. Go ahead. He can take it.
We are made in God’s image. So anger is something we can very much feel. And it’s something with which God can sympathize. The emotions He has; we have also. Handling anger, however, can be tricky. It’s a powerful emotion that can lead us to say and do things we later regret. Why? Because anger can easily rob us of sound judgment. Therefore, the Bible makes it clear that we are not to associate with those who are easily given to anger. Simply said, perpetually angry people are not healthy or stable individuals. We are to be slow to anger, just as God is.
How do you process your anger? Do you shut down and withdraw? Do you brew? Do you explode? God can handle it. Regardless of your natural temperament, God is very welcoming, understanding, patient, and kind. He is loving and compassionate toward us in our wayward emotions that can be so damaging.
Why do we get angry? This is the question I find myself grappling with when there are times my anger is directed at God. I find Him gently asking me, “Why are you angry?” As if God could do wrong… right? We all know that God is perfect in all of His ways. He is blameless. He’s holy. He’s all of these things and more. So why — and how could we possibly be angry with Him?
Sadly, knowing these truths about God does not often change how we feel toward Him. Emotions are not something we typically process rationally. Therefore, evaluating our emotions is something we must learn to do. Despite our most runaway feelings, God is able to see through them. He cares about our hearts and He’s constantly inviting us into His presence offering us His truth which is something anger can often mask very easily.
Knowing the truth about God does not necessarily change how we feel about Him.
He understands that complexity in us and knows how to deal with it.
More often than not, I find that my anger at God lies within the belief that He’s dealt with me unfairly; held out on me; lied to me; cheated me, etc., etc. Of course, we know God cannot do any of these things. But that does not change the way we feel. We can feel cheated, lied to, unjustly wronged, etc. when things don’t happen as expected although we’ve been obedient to Him. The enemy of our souls would love for us to believe that God is cruel and unjust — that He’s not true or righteous at all.
Things either happen, or fail to happen, which we could have never anticipated, and for which we could have never prepared in life. And who takes the rap?
And we get angry.
Is it wrong to feel anger? Not necessarily. It’s very understood as an emotion. But that does not mean it’s justified or directed appropriately. Our emotions are not indicators of truth. That is why evaluating our anger is necessary. Because once we realize God is not obligated to us, and that He is indeed above our anger, transcending our expectations, and that He is perfect, being absolutely incapable of doing wrong, we can then see our anger for what it is: a selfish and very carnal emotion that is tragically misplaced.
Anger is a natural emotion.
That does not mean it’s justified or properly placed.
Anger at God will readily separate you from Him. That chasm can be a dangerous spiritual breach. Don’t let that happen.
God’s Response to Our Anger
We can sin in our anger very easily. It doesn’t take much for that to happen. Anger has many emotional accomplices. If we fail to get control of ourselves, we can spin with frustration, deep pain, confusion, despair, etc. All of these emotions (and many more) can accompany anger.
If you’re angry at God, the last thing you probably want to do is talk to Him. Much less come into His presence. But that is precisely what you need to do. I’ve found no safer place to be angry with God than face to face with Him. I humbly confess, the last tantrum I had with Him was explosive. I had reached the end of myself. And the moment I unloaded I found myself completely swallowed up in His embrace. I wept and wept… I bawled and squalled; cried and cursed. He allowed me to come unhinged. And He was very quiet and very present. I cannot begin to tell you how shocked I was by this display of consuming love. He just listened until I was done. He completely consumed me in His presence. God is not afraid to step into our pain and experience it with us — even when it’s directed at Him. A few days went by in silence. He gave me my space. And once the dust settled and the storm had abated, He came to me intimately, waking me early in the morning, speaking things to me that I did not anticipate, let alone deserve to receive.
There is no safer place to be angry with God than face to face with Him.
I have found God to be very welcoming when I am transparent with Him. The greater the transparency with Him, the closer He becomes. He draws near. He’s very, very attracted to the soul that exposes itself in His presence, becoming naked. This is where we are no longer hiding from Him. Truth in the innermost being is revealed (see Psalm 51). God wants the real you — not the one you pretend to be. God will shun pretense. He doesn’t play with that. But He will readily embrace transparency — even when it’s raw and ugly.
God shuns pretense.
He embraces transparency.
God is slow to anger. He does not respond to our anger with anger. He’s bigger than that. He understands our deepest emotions, how powerful they are, and how easily we can be led astray by them. God wants more than anything to soothe your pain, reveal His truth, and comfort you in the midst of your anger, frustration, and confusion.
In your anger, despite it being directed at Him, you will find Him to be a friend, loving you and comforting you through it all. He does not offer you anger for anger. He offers love, healing, comfort, and hope. His love for you is greater than your anger. His desire is always to redeem. He sees your anger and understands it for what it really is — a misplaced human emotion that is desperately in need of consolation and comfort. The human soul can be so easily storm-swept and led astray. God wants to prevent that from happening to you.
You’re not alone in your anger at God. He knows you’re angry at Him and He cares about you. Tell Him. I promise, you’ll be very surprised by His response.
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: komposita | Pixabay