I have had the regular privilege of being a guest on “Life Questions with Pastor Michael” a radio show that a friend of mine, Michael Bannon produces. It is a show where he talks about spiritual questions ordinary folks might have. I that find interesting. I want a faith grounded in real life so I like to try to answer questions real people are asking. A recent question was from a person who asked if it was permissible for a person to be angry with God. It was an interesting discussion.
Michael asked, “Do we have the right to be angry with God?” I was not sure that was the question that helped me get at the root of the issue. I believe that at times we are all angry with God whether we have the right or not. The Bible contains a number of stories of people who were angry with God. David clearly was angry with God when Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6-8) was struck dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant. Jeremiah accused God of deceiving him! (Jeremiah 20:7) Moses tried to get God to change His mind! (Exodus 32:11-14) Jonah pouted when God chose to forgive the Ninevites saying, “I knew that’s just what You’d do!” (Jonah 4:1-10) Those are just four instances of some highly prominent characters in the Bible who have expressed frustration with God.
Whether or not we have a ‘right’ to be angry, sometimes just like Bible characters we are. What do we do then? How do we handle the strain between us and our God? Certainly Job’s story points out that wrestling with God is not a winnable contest and Jacob reminds us that when we try we may just end up with a limp for the rest of our days.
What makes us angry with God? During a break on the radio show, one of the other guests said, “Actually when we’re angry with God we’re often acting like children because we didn’t get what we wanted.” I think there is a lot of insight in that statement. We get angry (we might say “frustrated”) when what we think we are working toward or what we want is thwarted. I imagine that David was wrapped up in getting the Ark to Jerusalem. It didn’t occur to him that God wanted it carried on the shoulders of the priests, not on the top of an ox-cart. Jonah was angry God did not destroy the Ninevites instead of forgiving them.
I find it encouraging that the Bible indicates God can handle our anger. One of the things I notice over and over in the Bible is when it speaks about people’s anger with God, it also tells us about how they stay in communication with God. When David is angry, he still goes about worshipping God. After Jeremiah vents, he turns to worship. Jonah continues in communication. That is how their anger is resolved.
Too often I believe we have the tendency to walk away from God when we are angry. We can stop worshipping, avoid fellowship of believers, and choose to stew in our anger or pain. That is a recipe for disaster! If we stay in connection with God and remind Him (and ourselves) of our need to worship Him while admitting our pain and disillusionment, it allows us to learn and continue in God’s presence. I believe that presence is healing and instructive. David learned more about God, Jeremiah decided doing God’s will was worth the pain, Jonah learned to love or at least care for the residents of Nineveh while Moses kept on leading God’s people.
I think God acknowledges that we can angry—even with Him! What He looks for is our willingness to stay in relationship. That is where the solution is found!
People who are mad with god do believe in god as opposed to those who walk away not believing in him. Faith will restore love and a better understanding