Thursday, January 16, 2014

When You're Mad at God

            What do you do when you are mad at God? 
            If you are a “good Christian,” you might try to deny the way you feel.  You might smile and take it, trying to put up a good, pleasing front to convince God that you are handling it in a “good Christian” way.  After all, you wouldn’t want to offend or displease God, would you?
            If you are not a Christian, you might think that God wants nothing to do with you if you are angry at Him.  You might keep your distance from Him because you think that He would never allow an angry person in His presence.  Who do you think you are, anyway, that you should be angry with God?  Doesn’t that deserve lightning bolts?
            Or maybe you feel like you might hurt God’s feelings?  Or make Him angry with you?  Or cause Him to reject you? 

So what do you do when you are angry at God?  Or hurt?  Or discouraged?

            Well, if you were an Old Testament prophet or leader, you would confront God honestly.  You wouldn’t hide your feelings, trying to convince God that you are okay when you are not.  Because you would know that He already knows you better than you know yourself.  And so you would pour out your heart, your anguish, and let Him know exactly what was bothering you.  Because honesty with Him is the only way to healing and the only way to have a genuine, real relationship with Him.  (Of course, God puts those who confront Him in their place.  But the point is that they talked to God and God talked to them.  I think that is much better than not talking to God and Him not talking to you.) 

            Genesis 15:2:  “But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’”
            Numbers 11:10-15:  “Moses heard the people of every family wailing . . .  The Lord became exceeding angry, and Moses was troubled.  He asked the Lord, ‘Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?  What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people?  Did I give them birth? . . . They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.”
            1 Kings 19: 3-4:  “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. . . . He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.  ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said.  ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”
            Job, in his deep anguish, railed against God.  An example of this is in Job 10:1-3:  “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free reign to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.  I will say to God:  Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.  Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?”
            David (Psalm 22:1) pours out his heart, accusing God of failing him in his time of need.  “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?” 
            (Jesus Himself repeats that first part as He dies on the cross in Matthew 27:46.)
            Jeremiah 12:1:  (Jeremiah complaining to God)  “You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you.  Yet I would speak with you about your justice:  Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
            And in Jeremiah 20:7-8, 14, 18:  “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.  I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.  Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction.  So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. . . . Cursed be the day I was born!  May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! . . . Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?”
            We won’t always like what God’s allows into our lives, the trials and pain and heartaches.  We won’t always agree with Him about how life should go and what we “need.”  There are times we’ll be frustrated, hurt, discouraged, confused, indignant, depressed, broken, and, yes, angry.
            But we need to bring these feelings to God honestly.  Pour them out in prayer or a letter to Him.  He can handle them.  He can heal them.  And He can help us bear up under them.  But He cannot do that if we refuse to be honest with Him, if we hide our real feelings, closing off a door of our heart and telling Him, “You can’t look in there.  You won’t like what You see.  No admittance.”
            As you share your thoughts and feelings with the Lord, ask Him to help you see the situations as He does.  Ask Him to give you the strength and encouragement you need to handle the situation well, to bear up under the discouragement, frustration, pain, anger, etc.  Ask Him to help you grow through the trials and hard times.  Ask Him to meet you in the pain, to reveal Himself to you in a new way. 
            And try to remember that He has many more reasons to be angry with us than we have to be angry with Him.  And yet in His love and mercy, He bears with us for far longer than we bear with those who hurt us or make us angry. 
            We may get angry with Him at times, but we have so many more reasons to be thankful for His love, goodness, forgiveness, providence, patience, mercy, and grace.  So after you air your list of grievances against God, take some time to remember the ways He’s been good to you and to count the blessings and to remind yourself that, no matter what happens, He will work all things out for good in the end.  It makes the pain and trials so much easier to bear.  And honestly, it’s the only way to do it.