Angry with God?

Crying out to God

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord – Proverbs 19:3 New Living Translation

Is it ever appropriate to be angry with the Lord? The implication of this verse is that it is not appropriate, particularly when we are shifting blame and not admitting that it was our own foolishness that has resulted in our problems.

And yet I have seen such behavior many times over the years. People speak to me of being angry with God because He is not answering their prayers. The real problem is, as we are told in James, that they are praying amiss (4:3). They are praying selfishly or for their own will to be done or with deep unforgiveness in their hearts. Even though the Scriptures tell us that such things will block our prayers, still they blame God.

Another complaint I often hear is that God is not blessing their finances. Typically the real issue is a spending problem and not an income problem. Or many times I will discover that they are not tithing even though in Malachi God’s promise is to bless us if we do. So it is pointless to be angry with God when we ignore what He tells us to do and then we don’t like the results. To quote a popular song, we need to start with the man in the mirror.

Nevertheless I would argue that there are times when it is permissible and even advisable to be angry with God. In many Psalms, the Psalmist is venting frustration at how things are. In Psalm 74 he cries out, “O God, why do you cast us out forever?” In Psalm 73 he admits to being embittered in his heart towards God (vs. 21). The Prophet Jeremiah speaks of complaining and pleading his case before God because he wants to know why the wicked prosper and the treacherous thrive (12:1).

The ultimate hissy fit is the Book of Job. It is one long lament by a man who wants an explanation and will not settle for the religious clichés of his so-called “friends.” In his book on lament, “The Hidden Face of God,” Michael Card points out that Job refused to say what he thought that God wanted to hear. Instead Job spoke what was truly on His heart. His statements about God were not correct but they were what he really thought and felt. After he got them off of his chest, then he repented for speaking about things that he did not understand. The point is that he spoke them to God. He expressed his anger and frustration to the Almighty.

Thus, while we must not be irreverent or blasphemous, it is okay to be angry with God. Put it in the context of a Father/child relationship. What child has never been angry with their parents? And when we were, also we knew that there were appropriate and inappropriate ways to express our frustration. God as our heavenly Father is more than equipped to handle our anger. He is not surprised or shocked by it because it is one of the ways that we have been created in His image. If we try to ignore anger or to press it down then we only end up hurting others or ourselves.

What we see through the life of our Savior is that God wants a genuine relationship with us. He is not interested in empty religious trappings. He wants our hearts, even and especially when they are broken. So when you need to do so, do not be afraid to cry out to God and tell Him what He already knows that is going on deep inside. As you trust Him with those thoughts and feelings, including expressing your anger to Him, then your relationship with Him will deepen and you may well experience healing.

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