angry with God

I’m Angry With God! Answers for the Hurting Saint

Can people be angry with God and live? The amazing answer, as demonstrated especially in the Psalms, is yes. Anger with God usually comes down to difficulty accepting His sovereignty; His all-encompassing control of His universe.

The Hurting Saint

You may need a rational reconsideration of who God is, who you are, and how God and man relate. In other words, you need a good dose of biblical reality. Others of you are hurting with a heart so raw that what you need is tenderness and time. I don’t want anything I say to hurt you further. Some things that were said to me, though correct theologically and said in love to help me, left me feeling alienated not only from God but also from my Christian community.

Perhaps the most helpful counsel I received when I was hurting was from my pastor. When I told him how I was feeling, he said, “Suzanne, I know you, I know your faith. You will come through this dark tunnel.” He didn’t refer to God, with whom I was angry anyway. He referred to my history, with God quietly implied. I didn’t really want to lose God and my pastor knew that. He didn’t treat me as a budding reprobate, he treated me as a hurting saint.

God’s Sovereignty Before Affliction

The book of Job is the classic study of God’s sovereignty in the life of a hurting saint. In this story, Satan attributed Job’s faithfulness to the fact that God had blessed Job and protected him from trouble. Satan challenged God to bring trouble into Job’s life, predicting, “He will curse You to Your face” (Job 1:9-11).

God permitted Satan to afflict Job, with the exception that he was not permitted to touch Job’s body. In one day Job lost all his wealth and all his children. Job did not curse God, rather he worshiped Him, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Satan must have been stunned, but he did not give up. He challenged God to test Job by now inflicting physical pain. God gave Satan permission to do anything he wanted to Job, short of killing him. Satan afflicted Job with oozing, crusting sores from head to toe. Job sat in ashes (thought to be soothing and healing), scraping his skin with broken pieces of pottery. Job’s wife, seeing his misery and lacking his faith, challenged Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job said, “You’re talking like one of the godless women would do! Should we receive what is good from God, and not also receive what is evil?” (Job 2:10). What an amazing statement of faith. Perhaps Matt and Beth Redman were thinking of Job when they wrote “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” These are some of the words. (See the link below for the full version.)

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord
Blessed be Your name.

God’s Sovereignty During Affliction

Job may have stayed in this worshipful frame of mind had his friends not arrived to “comfort” him. The next thirty-six chapters consist of misguided monologues directed at Job, with Job’s sometimes petulant responses. Job’s friends were for the most part theologically correct, but not helpful in their application to Job’s situation. We see Job in deep depression; we see him arguing his innocence, complaining; questioning God’s justice. You’ve heard of the “patience of Job?” Patient Job had lost his patience and was no longer blessing God’s name.

When we are in the midst of deep suffering, we are in a place very much like Job was. We are disappointed in God. We don’t see His justice or His compassion. Perhaps we feel too unimportant for God’s care. Perhaps we feel that God is pursuing His agenda without considering the cost to the individual players. There are all kinds of things we may think or feel. God puts Job’s feelings on display in inspired Scripture for our benefit.

I encourage you to read the book of Job thoughtfully. If you are angry with God, you will find your feelings there. If you are confused, disappointed, despairing and depressed, those feelings are there too. Job may not have been patient, but he was persevering and pursuing God with all his heart. He knew that God was behind his suffering. He affirmed the sovereignty of God in everything that happens in all the universe, saying that even nature understands that God is in control. “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you.…Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).

God’s Sovereignty After Affliction

Knowing that allowed this did not comfort Job. He demanded an audience with God so he could defend his innocence. God answered him with a direct encounter, and what an encounter it was! In chapters 38 and 39, God describes His immensity and divine power in embarrassing contrast to Job’s broken humanity, leaving Job speechless. After chapters 40 and 41, Job was fully repentant of the charges he had brought against God, saying, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

As far as we know, God never explained to Job what had gone on behind the scenes, that this had been a test, that he had passed, and that Satan had been the loser. Like Job, we do not get to see the behind-the-scenes reason why God has allowed that “worst thing” in our lives. God has chosen to keep His ways and thoughts hidden for now.

Grief Disguised As Anger

Hurting sister, are you angry with God? Your little fists don’t make the slightest dent on His chest, but at least you’re communicating. Once you are able to acknowledge that God is your sovereign God, and that you are His loved but humbled daughter, your anger will subside. The emotion that remains is grief; grief that has been posing as anger. And because anger is stronger than grief, you lashed out at the One who you thought had hurt you.

Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He knows your sorrow, your very personal sorrow in the way it is different from anyone else’s sorrow. Soul restoration will be His work in His time. Make yourself available to Him. The God of Job 38-42 is the God of Psalm 23. He is your God. He is not in the least impersonal, nor is He impatient. Stay close to Him. Trust Him.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Perhaps in heaven some of His higher thoughts and higher ways will be made known to us. Until then, will you believe that your response to suffering can bring glory and praise to His name and defeat Satan’s effort to defame your Savior?

When you cannot see His hand, will you trust His heart?

The Glory of God changes everything


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