Is It Okay To Be Angry With God?
Is It Okay To Be Angry With God?
He’s the omniscient Being. The Creator of the Universe. The heroic Savior of mankind. But let’s be honest, God does things and allows things to happen sometimes that really wear our patience thin – and because I always keep posts rated PG, that’s an understatement and missing other colorful words I think many of us would prefer to use. So is it okay to be angry with God?
How many times have you asked, “Why have you let this happen, God?” or “Why am I in so much hurt or pain, God?” Tip of the iceberg questions, I know, but you’ve probably asked those questions more times than you can count. Consequently, depending on the type of congregation you were raised in or attend, it’s likely that you begin questioning if you’re sinning by your anger towards God. It’s the old, “Am I sinning because I’m worried, and am I worried because I’m sinning?” conundrum.
If you’ve ever wondered the title question, then I’m going to put your mind at ease with one Psalm, though to be fair, there are multitudes of them.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
David pens similar words all throughout his psalms and of course, we know these are the famous last words of Jesus on the cross. So David, who clearly went through tough times (sometimes because of his own decisions), was upset with God and Jesus quotes him. It doesn’t take much research through the psalms to see that David and others were not conservative with their contentions towards God. I long for the day when our modern worship music will be so bold to utter such compelling and meaningful words.
LET’S GET MEANINGFUL, MEANINGFUL
A couple of months ago I silenced my own tongue because I recorded a video “from the pit,” as it were, and decided not to post it. There has been a very popular worship song as of late that’s incredibly shallow and has almost no depth. But almost any modern American church is singing it every week. So a pastor friend of mine sent me a link to the story behind the song in hopes that I would have an appreciation for it. The story is heartbreaking and painful and agonizing. The worship song, however, reflects none of those adjectives. Instead of writing a powerfully bold song about the deep emotions of going through painful seasons and the wrestling with God yet Him still being enthroned in spite of it, the song is a “happy-go-lucky-everything-is-awesome” medley. You want to know why Millennials and Gen Z have left the church in droves? It’s because so many of our churches are fake, just like that worship song.
Why can’t Christians be honest with their emotions? David wasn’t shy. Peter wasn’t shy. Jeremiah wasn’t shy. Shall I continue? It’s okay to be angry with God! It’s okay to write worship songs about being angry with God (with a caveat that I’ll explain below). It’s okay to write sermons about being angry with God. Do you think there’s anything you can say that God doesn’t already know? Do you think God is so fickle that he can’t handle your criticism? Is Heaven going to wither and die because you say, “I hate you, God!” The LORD can take it – that’s why He’s God!
Being honest with our feelings and emotions with God allows us to process situations the way they need to be processed rather than stuffing them away and pretending they don’t matter. I firmly believe that God wants us to be honest with Him and go to Him with all our frustrations. David certainly believed that and was called a man after God’s own heart, so I can’t be too far off. We need to abandon this “everything-is-awesome” spirituality that forces us to live a toxic positive life where we think it’s a sin if something bad happens to us (I’m looking at you Prosperity Gospel people!)
I’m sure Joseph was just loving life when he was in prison. I’m sure Sarah was thrilled when she pawned off Hagar onto Abraham to have a child. I’m sure Peter, James, and John were overjoyed to see their Lord placed on a cross after being beaten to a pulp. Who of the biblical characters do we see have everything work out the way they wanted it to? If the people of the Bible struggled with righteous anger towards God, then so can you.
Okay, so we answered the question. It’s okay to be angry with God. BUT you shouldn’t stay in that place of anger. Jesus had a very strategic reason for quoting Psalm 22. For starters, the entire sin and weight of the world was being placed on him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). I think Jesus was justified. Secondly, I think it was a beautiful reminder that things don’t work out the way we want them to. Jesus wasn’t sweating blood asking for the cup to be removed because He was delighted about what was about to happen. Jesus was downright scared and wanted another way. Jesus (who we believe is God incarnate) wasn’t cheerful about the idea of going to the cross. Once again, Jesus didn’t live in toxic positivity, you don’t need to either. The last and most important reason Jesus quotes Psalm 22 is because it doesn’t end with verse 5.
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
GOD INTENDED FOR GOOD
If you go through this life and never feel like God has abandoned you at some point or another, then I envy you (Yeah, I’m sinning, I know). All throughout history, God’s people have felt frustration with God – BUT God’s people also come to terms knowing that their suffering isn’t in vain. In spite of the suffering, in spite of the pain, in spite of the anguish, God uses it to bring others to Him and uses it for good. Think of all the horrible things Joseph (That rainbow coat guy from Genesis) went through. Left for dead by his brothers and shipped to Egypt, put into prison, people lied about him, and somehow after all that stupidity, Mr. Rainbow Coat himself gets established as Pharaoh’s number two man AND saves his family, including the brothers who left him for dead. And what does he say for himself when it’s all done?
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Joseph could have easily stayed angry with God and killed his brothers and got his revenge. Instead, he allowed himself to view the situation from God’s perspective. I’m sure Joseph spent a good amount of time in tears being angry with God and the ways things happened. However, he didn’t let that keep him chained down from God’s purpose for his life.
Jesus quotes Psalm 22 because it’s a perfect expression of the human emotion towards God. It’s okay to feel like God has abandoned us. It’s healthy and right to take time to grieve a loss or a bad situation and express your anger with the One who claims to be in control. The cycle of Holy Weekend is significant to the processing of our emotions. On Friday we feel angry with God. On Saturday we mourn and grieve. On Sunday we praise God because indeed there is still hope. Suffering produced reconciliation. Death produced new life. Anguish produced redemption. Hatred produced forgiveness. It’s okay to be angry with God as long as we don’t remain in that state beyond the grieving period.
I think right now there are a good amount of people in the “angry with God” boat. The Coronavirus pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Jobs have been lost. Lives have been put on hold. Major important events have been canceled. For many, it feels like God has abandoned or forsaken them and it’s a painful season. But Sunday is coming (Quite literally, I think some restrictions will be lifted this weekend!) Hope remains. Jesus has still risen and Jesus is still going to return. One day there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Nonetheless, just because there is hope that hope doesn’t eradicate the situation. It doesn’t fix what happened and it doesn’t make it any better. It’s like your mom blowing on your scraped knee. It doesn’t actually make the pain go away, but it reminds you that you are in the hands of the one who loves you and that even if it happens again, she’ll be there to take care of you. It still hurts but there are good things to be reminded of.
I want to close this article by saying this: your anger and frustration with God should lead you to forgive God and reconcile with Him. “Woah! Justin! Heresy! God didn’t do anything wrong, how can you forgive God?” If we believe that God is omniscient and omnipotent, and someone like my sister dies when she’s only 6 weeks old, do you think God gets a Get Out Of Jail Free card just because He’s God? He could have saved her, but He didn’t. How many other stories like Nichole and worse exist throughout the world? It’s hurtful and painful. I don’t understand why God allows the things He does but I know that if I don’t forgive the Lord for the painful situation I incurred then I will remain bitter with Him. I know (because I’ve been there) that the bitterness will lead down a rabbit hole that’s difficult to climb out of.
Search through your pain. Be honest and real with God because He can take it. Not everything is awesome and that’s okay because that’s reality. Take the time to process it and allow yourself time to grieve. Ask God to provide you with answers or at least some form of understanding. Then ask how the situation can be used for good. Pray and ask as many times as you need. Jesus prayed the same prayer three times because He needed resolution that the cross was the only way. You may need resolve in your soul that a suffering season was the only way (though a warning, you may never receive the answer you want). If and when you get resolution, then it’s time to forgive God and maybe forgive yourself. It’s okay to be angry with God but it’s not okay to stay angry with God. Don’t let your life be consumed with bitterness. Don’t let your life be robbed of joy (Once again, I know, because I allowed it to happen). Let forgiveness and reconciliation flow through your veins so that your suffering will produce perseverance, character, and hope…and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:1-5).
P.S. I recently did a Lectio Divina through Psalm 22:1-5. If you’re up to it, I’d love for you to take some time to pray, and read, and meditate on this beautiful piece of scripture. When you’re done, I’d love to know what stuck out to you and how this verse is meaningful for you.
About Justin Boothby
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About The Author
Justin is a lifelong student who loves to travel, film, write, design websites, and life coach. Most importantly he loves to Pastor in all different kinds of ministry settings. He’s also an avid pizza lover, metalcore listener, and shot glass collector.
M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M.Div. Regent University
B.S. Southeastern University