Anger at God
Most discussions of anger don’t mention anger at God. It’s a significant blind spot. In reality, enmity toward God is an underlying and defining characteristic of humans.
People will often blame God when what they have lived for comes up empty. “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3).
When God’s children wandered about I the wilderness, he summed up their attitude as, “They grumble against me” (Numbers 14:27.
When hardships seem overwhelming, God is often a scapegoat.
When men and women reap what they sow, they often harshly judge the One who rightly judges them. People “cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds” (Rev. 16:11).
Hostility directed toward God often lands on his servants.
Human nature has not changed. This is something instinctive, irrational, compulsive, and virulent about anger at God. It makes no sense to bit the hand that feeds you, to hate the Father who gives and sustains life. He is good, and he does good. He is compassionate, gracious, patient, full of loving-kindness and faithfulness. He freely forgives. His mercies are new every morning. But we instinctively hate him anyway because he insists on one thing: “Listen to me.”
Our true self longs to yield wholly to the Lord’s will, but what hope is there for us when we find the seeds of resistance to God still very alive in us?
When Advice Misses the Core Issue of Anger with God
The standard advice for those angry at God:
Remember anger just is – it’s neither good nor bad. It’s OK to feel angry at God. He made us with angry emotions.
God often lets us down and disappoints us. How else can we explain the heartaches of life, when hard things happen? If he’s supposed to be in control, then he could have stopped it, and he didn’t.
You can vent your anger at God. He’s a mature lover and mature love can absorb the anger of the beloved. Don’t be afraid to tell him exactly what you feel and think. God wants and honest relationship. Many of the Psalms portray anger at God, so if other godly people have let out their rage at him, you can too. Don’t censor your feelings and language; say it like you feel it so you won’t be a hypocrite.
You need to forgive God. Forgiveness is the opposite of anger, and you need to let go of the hostility in order to be at peace in yourself and start building a trusting relationship with God. Forgive him for the ways he let you down.
These four doctrines are not true and confuse the issue.
Don’t let your anger against God be based on something that he never promised.
Anger at God is wrong. It overflows with mistrust toward God. It firmly embraces and stubbornly proclaims lies about what God is like. It rationalizes any number of self-destructive and sinful behaviors. However, anger at God also presents a wonderful opportunity for profound personal growth through counseling. Handled rightly, it is the royal road into the dark disorder of the human heart. Like any other commonplace wrong, it must be faced and acknowledged. There is no temptation that overtakes us that is not common to all, but God is merciful. He is faithful to help us come clean. He is faithful to help us when we do come clean. By the grace of God, those who are angry at him discover (often for the first time) who he actually is and who they are.
Unbelief blames God for the bad things, curses him, walks angrily away, and sets about manufacturing other gods who might give us what we want.
What Is the Alternative?
Until heaven comes down, this world is a hard place to live. The Christian faith is explicit that believing does not grant immunity from suffering.
Many people who are angry at God have suffered more routine hardships: disappointment in love, financial disaster, a life- threatening illness, death of a loved one.
Afflictions are hard. Sufferings hurt. People who are angry at God typically suffer the exact same kinds of pain (and enjoy many of the same blessings) as people who love God! Groaning about our sufferings (to God, in faith and hope) is heartily warranted. But God has never promised freedom from tears, mourning, crying, and pain – or from the evils that cause them – until the great day when life and joy triumph over death and misery.
It is curious how people who don’t believe that God sovereignly rules all things become embittered hyper-Calvinists when they face sufferings and say, God could have changed things for me and he didn’t. He had the power, and he didn’t use it. It’s his fault. To actually believe that God rules for his glory and our welfare is to gain an unshakable foundation for trust and hope, in the midst of hellish torments, as well as amid the milder pains and disappointments.
You do not need to vent hostility at God. Instead, name your sin and your need for what it is. Turn away from it. Turn toward God for mercy. It helps a great deal when we come to understand the demands, false beliefs, and self-righteousness that produce and drive our anger. No psalm encourages the venting of hostile anger like the self-help books encourage. Rather, it’s not hostility in the Psalms, but a cry for help.
In Psalm 44 the sons of Korah are really upset at how bad circumstances are. They really want God to intervene. Their displeasure is the constructive displeasure of faith, however, not destructive raging. It’s needy, not dismissive. It’s hopeful, not hostile. It’s faith speaking out, not pride and self-will passing judgment. They yearn for the well-being of people whom God has promised to love, people who have entrusted themselves to his care.
When the Bible teaches how to voice distress to God, it teaches a cry of faith, not a roar of rage.