Loss of a life, loss of a job and loss of a home. All these losses and more in our lives may cause us to be angry. Angry at the circumstances, angry at the consequences and even angry at God. But should we ever focus our anger at God for the seemingly devastating and hurtful things that happen in our lives?
As a grief and end-of-life counselor, I have sat with more than one person who has expressed being angry at God. I myself, even though difficult to admit, have been angry with God over circumstances in my life. And that is what has led me to investigate this issue through the lens of the Bible in the search for the truth.
In my search, I stumbled across another interesting question. Why do we not direct our anger at Satan, who is, after all, the proverbial fly in our ointment, the tempter and bringer of chaos (Job 1:7, Job 2:7, Matt. 16:23, Luke 22:3, 2 Cor. 11:4)? Why is it that we choose to lash out at our Sovereign Lord, who protects us, provides for us and has given us the opportunity for eternal life (John 3:16-17)?
The conclusion to my research and these questions lies in our obedience (1 Peter 1:14). God has never promised us problem-free days void of stress and complications. To the contrary, the Bible warns us that while in this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33) and that the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). It even says that we will face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). In the book of Job, we read that God allows us to be tried and tempted to a point — a point which He controls to build our perseverance, strength, faith and trust (Rom. 5).
A woman asked me recently: “Why does He (God) allow small children to be abused”? My initial answer was an honest, “I don’t know.” I continued my answer by sharing with her what I understood about God’s character: that He is sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, loving, merciful, king and forgiving. Then I posed a point of thought. Knowing all these things about the character of God, I shifted focus to the character of man and the role of man, our role in the lives of one another.
What if God had called someone to intercede on this child’s behalf and they remained silent? What if God was calling to the abuser to stop and they chose to ignore His voice? Should our anger remain with God or should our anger lie with the persons who are not heeding the calling of God in their lives?
Songwriter Matthew West stated this concept beautifully in his song “Do Something”:
“…people living in poverty, children sold into slavery, the thought disgusted me. So, I shook my fist at heaven, ‘God, why don’t you do something?’ He said, ‘I did. I created you’. If not us, then who?”
The most common question I am asked by families with a loved one on hospice services is “why does he/she have to suffer?” Again, my initial honest answer is “I don’t know” followed by what I do know about our God: He is sovereign, He has a plan, we don’t see it all, and this is only a piece of the plan.” And again, it comes down to our obedience. How will we choose to respond to the tragedy?
Will we continue to trust in Him and not lean on our own understanding of the situation at hand (Prov. 3:5-6), or will we give into the temptation to become angry and bitter at God before we see the totality of the events unfolded (Acts 8:23)? Will we be patient with God (Col. 3:12)? Will we pray for revelation and understanding (Luke 18:1)? Or, will we wallow in our anger and let the devil get a foothold of our hearts (Eph. 4:27)?
Being angry and expressing anger to God is common and will probably be something that we will continue to experience at different points in our lives. The real question is what will you do with your anger and will you seek the truth in your anger or will you let your anger develop into sin in your life (Eph. 4:26)? Practicing surrender to God’s truth is not easy, especially in times of tragedy and grief. It takes obedience, willingness and a change of heart.
In these times of anger, I encourage you to seek out God’s Word. Read and pray about your particular situation and ask for God’s help. The Bible is not a fairytale book where every story has a happy ending. The Bible is full of real life tragedy and loss and of how people dealt with their circumstances.
Express your feelings to God in prayer; however, be reminded that there is always hope (Rom. 12:12). Satan would like nothing more than to use the situation in your life to erode your confidence and faith. God would like nothing more than to use the situation to strengthen and encourage your faith.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).