Have you ever been angry at God?
In the midst of life’s stresses and strains, do you find your heart’s frustration, confusion and disappointment directed toward the sovereign Lord?
What are you to do with such feelings?
Anger is a perfectly natural response to suffering and the complexities of a fallen world. An omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful) God seems to be an appropriate outlet for our displeasure. After all, He is big enough to absorb our anger, right?
Though feelings of anger directed toward God are indeed natural, natural does not necessarily mean acceptable. After all, Christians wrestle with an old nature which is opposed to and distrustful of God. It is this nature which responds to God with unwarranted resentment and rage.
As John Piper once wrote in an article, it is never right to be angry with God. Not only is God omniscient and omnipotent, but also omnibenevolent (all-good). God is always and only good. Though His goodness may not be demonstrated in accordance with our desires and comforts, He is good. It is good to be angry at sin, but it is sin to be angry at good.
If anger at God is never justified, do we therefore cringe in shame and condemnation, merely suppressing our feelings?
Not at all; instead we go to the promises of God, consider anew the gospel, offer up our anger to Him and repent. Here are a few aspects of an appropriate response:
- Consider again the promises and goodness of God. Take time to dwell in and feast upon the Scriptures, reflecting upon the realities of a Son given to save you from sin and into an eternity of unceasing and ever-increasing joy.
- Consider the roots of your anger. Ask yourself why you are really angry with the Lord. Often anger arises from unmet expectations birthed out of a misunderstanding of the gospel. Are you angry at God for an unmet desire that He has never promised to meet this side of glory?
- Confess your anger to the LORD. Pour out your heart before Him. The Psalms are filled with such expressions. As Piper wrote in his article, don’t compound the sin of anger with a subsequent sin of hypocrisy. If you are angry, tell Him.
- Combat your wrestle in the midst of community. As with most other sins, anger festers in dark and hidden places. Share your struggle with your gospel-centered community, who can listen with a sympathetic ear and shepherd you through your anger and toward the LORD.
God is good. All of His works are good and only good. A thousand heartaches and a thousand more do not disprove His love or goodness, but hearts are slow to trust in the seeming hardness of His grace and mercy toward those He loves. When troubles assail our souls, the challenge is to confront our natural resentment and to pursue rest in the gospel.
It is never right and good to be angry at God, but if you are, don’t stay there. Humble yourself and move toward Him.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable…The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made…The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:3, 8-9, 17–19