Monday, June 19, 2006

Angry With God

The following question was found at Explore Faith.

Will I be punished if I am angry at God, because I feel miserable and alone?

This is a great question and I want to attempt to answer it in two parts. Each one of us has been angry with God for some reason or another. Perhaps He didn’t come through when we thought He should have or He allowed some terrible experience happen to us. God gets a lot of blame, even from those who claim not to believe in Him, for things that happen. I would bet there are a lot of people in the world who are angry at God.

First, I want to deal with the notion of punishment. When we make following Jesus mostly about sin management we become overly concerned with whether or not God will punish us for some misdeed. There are times in my life when every time something doesn’t quite go my way I think God is punishing me for some sin in my life. It is that same type of thinking that brought Job’s three friends to him with their encouragement to repent of the sin he had committed.

Here is the problem when we focus too much on punishment and sin management: we focus on what can’t do rather than on what we should do. The grace of God provides us with a safety net as we live life following Jesus. Are we going to sin? Most likely because we have been trained so well to do it, but God has already promised that our sins are forgiven. That means we are free to move forward with confidence as we put more and more trust in God.

The questioner is concerned about what he/she shouldn’t do and as a result is worried about being punished by God. The irony is that as long as he/she sees God as a judge waiting to punish our sins the more angry they will become with God. It is a never-ending cycle.

In our attempts to minister to such a person is to help them see God, not as someone out to get them, but someone who desperately loves them. We need to attempt to lead them to a point where they can learn to trust God with their lives. It is only then that not only their angry with God begin to dissolve, but they will also no longer fear that God is out to get them.

Second, I want to deal with this idea about being angry with God. Is it okay to be angry with God? I don’t know if it is okay, but I do know that God allows. Psalms 6, 35, and 102 are a few examples of writings by people who were angry with God. Life wasn’t going as planned and God seemed not to care. When life gets rough it is easy to get angry with the Person who could have made things go differently.

God allows us to get angry with Him because of our lack of understanding. We have a limited view of how things are going, not only in our lives, but also through human history. Since we cannot see all ends and God does it only makes sense that we will get upset about things that we don’t understand, especially when those things seem so bad. But I also think there is a condition put on getting angry with God: that we pledge to trust Him no matter what.

I have written about doubt here and here.  We discover that doubt is more about whether or not we have placed full confidence in God than about how well we understand things. A person who gets angry with God because he/she is alone and refuses to worship God is in trouble. That person has not made up his/her mind to trust God in all circumstances. The person who gets angry with God because he/she is alone and is able to worship God will one day see his/her needs met. That person has made up his/her mind to trust God no matter what life may throw his/her way.

In many ways this is a deeply personal question for me. I have been angry with God because I was alone and refused to worship Him. The longer this went on the angrier I became and the more darkness ruled in my heart. I was convinced that there was no way out of the hopeless situation I found myself in.

My angry slowly gave way to love once I choose to worship God. I made that choice when I realized being single in this couple filled world was not a bad thing and that if I trusted God then perhaps one day I would experience companionship that very few people have ever experienced. I don’t know why I remain single, it is something I just don’t understand, and there are times when I still get angry with God about it because it seems so unfair. But in my heart I have committed to trusting God and following Jesus no matter what and when I set my focus there my angry flows away and I see the reality that life is good.

Being miserable and alone is not a punishment for being angry with God, but it is what happens when we fail to trust God like we should. When we are angry with God without the commitment to trust Him we, in a very real way, create our very one punishment because the more anger we have with God the darker our situation seems. When we commit to trust God we will discover a life worth living, even when we don't understand everything that happens in life.

1 comment:

Joy in the Journey said...

I'm pretty sure that being angry is okay. Even Jesus got angry with the money changers in the temple. It's what we DO with that anger is what really matters. . .

My Dearest Paul, about your singleness. . .there are amazing tasks lined up for you that only YOU can do. Your abilities to accomplish those tasks may depend on your being single. Isn't this life all about serving God in the best way possible?

While I was suffering from depression, God couldn't use me. I had to CHOOSE to get better first before He could use me. I was the one that had to take action. I had to be so low that the only God that could lift me out of the pit was Him. Now I'm in that heady place of getting better and better and just FULL of anticipation of how God is going to use me in a big way. I think you know how difficult it is to wait. But you're still not ready in His eyes.

My husband and I were definitely NOT ready to meet or get married until he was 39 and I was 27. God was preparing both of us separately during those years leading up to our meeting. I'm so thankful for God's timing. Had I met Mr. Joy before I was ready, I would have squandered that meeting and never would have possessed the boundless joy and companionship added to by three beautiful children.

These are meant to be encouraging words! God's timing is perfect. . .and it's only AFTER the fact that we can see that.


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