“Surely now, God has worn me out.” Job 16:7
Angry with God? It's not unusual.
To be honest, I can't say I have a lot of experience in this area, but that hardly makes me superior. My struggles with God have usually been along the lines of neglect or disappointment fueled by an eloquent self-pity. So there. If you're feeling angry with God right now, don't think that you're particularly bad. Take grace out of the equation and we're all in deep trouble.
Anger with God, though, is a special case. People often struggle not only with the anger itself, but the guilt or fear of feeling angry. Also, the anger itself, or the guilt of feeling it, prevents us from taking it out and looking at it honestly in a new light.
I've seen that happen with many adults. They nurse a grudge against God that dates back to their childhood or adolescence. Think about that for a moment. Do you really want to live the rest of your life based on your perceptions as a teenager? Or should you embrace with finality an anger you arrived at during an rash and impulsive moment?
Let's take out that anger and look at it calmly for a moment. We can't cover everything in a 600-700 word column, but I think I can make a couple of helpful points briefly.
The book of Job helps. Job was angry with God and felt God had mistreated him. He has harsh words for God and directly challenges Him repeatedly. "Surely now, God has worn me out" is a good example of how exasperated Job was. He was tired of dealing with this God who had repeatedly disappointed him.
And that brings us to the first point in handling our anger with God. Admit it. It's not like God doesn't know. The Bible is very helpful at this point. It does not present us with sanitized characters of sterling reputation and impeccable faith. Job was genuinely angry. So was Jeremiah. I think I can see it in Moses. Angry with God? You're not alone, and you can't hide it. Admit it to God. Start the conversation with Him.
Second point: God is not offended by your anger. This is a little tricky, for it sounds like anger doesn't matter. It does, of course, but not because it hurts or angers God. Anger with God has the very same effect as anger with other people. It's like taking poison and hoping the other guys gets sick.
God does want us to get over our anger, not because we keep hurting His feelings, but because it keeps us from getting better. God never makes it more difficult for us to draw close to Him. He's not matching our anger, degree by degree. He's always looking for a way for grace to soothe our souls.
So now having disposed of a bit of bad theology, what do we do? Pray. Just pray, and do your very best to relax in the rhythms of God's grace. Just for a moment, in prayer, try to unclench your fist. God will then take hold of your hand.
There is so much more to be said about this complicated topic. Anger almost always is an expression of fear. Someone told me, "if you want to see how fearful I am, watch how angry I get." That certainly applies to anger with God. We're fearful of something, and we need to be honest about what that is.
Job expected a life of ease because of his steady faith. Life doesn't work that way. And God is not a cruise ship director whose task is to make your life comfortable and pleasant at every turn.
The real solution, however, lies not in a blog, but in a conversation with God. Our heavenly Father loves us, even in our tantrums and pouts. Take that anger to God. He will steadily quiet it if you give Him the chance.
Dr. Terry Ellis
September 13, 2015