Thursday, April 30, 2009

Anger at God

Someone asked me recently if I had ever preached a sermon on being angry at God. Regretfully I have not. However, I do have some thoughts on this important topic. Please read with a prayerful spirit.

1. Anger with God is normal.

Most of us at various points in our life will get angry with God. Circumstances, health, relationships, and just life will cause us to feel as if God has let us down. Just this week I was talking to a woman who had lost her mother at 12 years of age. After this occurred, she felt abandoned by God and didn’t want to have anything to do with the Lord or church. Just recently she has been able to work through this disappointment and anger and return to a healthy relationship with the Lord. I heard someone once say, “You cannot be angry with someone you don’t really care about; therefore, if you are angry with God, at least it says your relationship with Him is important to you.” You would not be reading this if your relationship with God was not important to you. Hats off to you for that!

2. Some of the greatest God-followers in history have been angry at God.

If you are angry with God, take heart, because some of the greatest saints in history have experienced anger at God. Throughout the book of Psalms, King David and others pour out their heart in frustration at their circumstances and the God who is sovereign over circumstances. Consider the following passages and see if you can relate to these feelings:

“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will you hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalms 13:1-2

“My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?” Psalms 6:3

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” Psalms 22:1-2

"Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from You: Withdraw Your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with Your terrors.” Job 13:20-21

“Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy? Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff?” Job 13:24-25

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” 2 Cor. 1:8-9

3. Anger is due to blocked goals, so you need to discover what goal is being blocked and then ask, “Is it a Godly goal?”

Often our anger at God is due to selfishness on our part. We want something, do not get it, and then we blame God. However, there are other times when our anger can feel somewhat justified. Perhaps we were dealt a difficult blow in life, and we had nothing to do with it. For example, when the tragic death of a loved one occurs, we can feel quite abandoned by the Lord – “Where were you, God? Why did you allow this to happen? Don’t you care about me and the others affected by this?”

It is helpful to know that anger is due to a blocked goal. Therefore, we need to analyze the reason for our anger at God. If I am angry due to an ungodly goal (i.e. making a bad shot in golf), then I need to change my goal (i.e. enjoy the game of golf vs. make a low score). If the goal being blocked is indeed godly, then we need to make sure we pursue the godly goal in a godly manner – Jesus being angry in the Temple and overturning tables instead of physically hurting people. I may be angry with God that someone is not responding to the Gospel. In this situation, I need to release that person to God and trust that God is at work even if I don’t see evidence of His work in their heart.

4. You need to actively work through your anger with God.

It is not healthy to neither ignore the anger nor feed the anger. Instead, we must work through the anger in a godly and biblical manner. If we do work through our anger, it can actually serve to lead us to greater intimacy with God. Here are some suggestions in working through our anger toward God:

a. Pour out your heart to God in prayer.

God already knows that you are angry, so instead of sweeping it under the rug or pretending it isn’t there, just be honest with God in prayer about your anger. Tell him exactly how you feel. He won’t be surprised because He knows every detail of your life anyway. As you pour out your heart to God, you might discover some things about your heart that you need to see. Often when I get gut level honest with God in prayer, I end up confessing sin to God. As I am honest in prayer, I realize sinful things about my heart that I needed to get in touch with.

b. Read the Psalms.

The book of Psalms is the best book to read when you are angry with God. This holy book of God is filled with all kinds of emotion. At the same time, most all Psalms end in praise. We must ultimately praise God for who He is, despite how we feel. That is what faith is all about – holding fast to God regardless of our circumstances or feelings.

c. Ask God for help.

This may sound elementary, but it is so important. We need to acknowledge our weakness before the Lord, and humbly ask for His help in working through our anger. As our Father, God awaits us to ask for His help. “You have not because you ask not” (James 4;2).

d. Talk to a Godly person.

We need each other in our journey with God. One of the best things about the church is that in the body of Christ we have many Godly resources. Go to someone you trust and share with them your anger with God. Humbly get their counsel and prayers. You will be better for doing so.

e. Submit to God no matter what.

Maturity involves submission to God in the midst of difficult emotions. I am most impressed with how the godliest of persons have chosen to submit to God amidst very trying circumstances. The bottom line here is believing that God has done no wrong because He is incapable of wrongdoing. All His works are right and just. “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He” (Dt. 32:4).

We often do not perceive His works as being perfect, but they are. Ultimately we must come to the point of standing on the truth of who He is. This is one of the keys to becoming a spiritual father as discussed in 1 John 2:12-14. A spiritual father is someone who “believes in Him who has been from the beginning.”

In conclusion, don’t beat yourself up for being angry with God. But do face it and work through it with the above suggestions and others the Lord might give you. Let me hear from you about this blog. I would love your input on what the Lord had taught you on this important topic! God is good and His mercies endure forever! He loves you and wants to help you with any need you have.