When we are real before God, we give him space to become more real to us.
A lot of people seem to be especially angry these days, so it’s good to remember that anger is not an inherently bad feeling. It’s okay to be angry — even to be angry at God, sometimes. Our emotions are part of the fullness of our complex selfhood, and because the Creator did incarnate and become fully God and fully human, none of our emotions — “glad, sad, bad, mad” — are foreign to God.
And it’s okay, sometimes, to feel “mad” at God. He is big enough to deal with it, and he knows us so intimately that God knows we’re mad even before we tell him. He accepts our struggle with him when we are faced with situations that impact our lives of faith, or our trust in him.
There are countless examples throughout the Bible of a believer who becomes angry at the Creator of the world. Job’s story is probably the best known: Job was a faithful servant of the Lord but Satan boasted to God that he could change that just by changing Job’s prosperous life situation. God permitted Satan to tempt Job to despair by taking away everything.
One by one everything that gives meaning to Job’s life — his possessions, family members, and friends — gets taken away from him. It gets so bad that Job raises his voice and “cursed the day of his birth” (Job 3:1). He goes on to voice a weary cry of the heart that expresses his anger, saying such things as, “Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? … Why is light given to the toilers, life to the bitter in spirit? They wait for death and it does not come” (Job 3:11, 20-21).
Job continues by questioning God directly, even challenging God, asking him why these bad things continue to happen.
“If I sin, what do I do to you,
O watcher of mortals?
Why have you made me your target?
Why should I be a burden for you?
I will give myself up to complaint; I will speak from the bitterness of my soul.I will say to God: Do not put me in the wrong! Let me know why you oppose me.”(Job 7:20, 10:1-2)
God eventually responds to Job and in return for his faithfulness during such a horrendous trial, Job has restored to him everything he lost.
Sometimes in life we can feel like Job. The world appears to be against us. We may lose those closest to us or lose our job, house and possessions. It seems like God is absent.
The worst thing we can do is give-up and grow cold — to throw up our arms and dig a hole within ourselves, choosing to live there, cut off and isolated from the world and distanced from God, who would much rather we engaged him. When we are angry with God, we are allowing a dialogue. We give God room to both feel our hurt and sorrow, and to hear our cries. When we are real before God, we give him space to become more real to us.
Think of it this way. In a family, there are times (too many to count) when a child becomes angry with their parents — perhaps the child feels the parents are unfair, or have shown more affection to a sibling. If that resentment goes unspoken, a child can hold a grudge against their parents for years, and the relationship can become brittle, cold and broken. Much better for the child to tell the parent what is troubling mind and soul. Then the parents can respond, and the relationships may be repaired.
God knows our thoughts, but he wants us to express them, just as Jesus did at Gethsemane. God is often called the “Divine Physician” and just like any doctor, he will only provide healing to the ill the patient is complaining about. Similarly, God wants us to express the cries of our heart so that he can go in and mend our brokenness.
So the next time you feel anger towards God because of an unfortunate situation, don’t bottle it up; cry out like Job and question God. Wrestle with God as Jacob did in the desert (see Genesis 32:23-31). After that episode Jacob was given a new name, Israel, which means, “He who strives with God.” Only after we have wrestled with God can our relationship be repaired and begin the long path of healing.
5 Ways to reject unhealthy anger this Lent