Anger at God

I'm an avid podcast listener.  One of my favorites is Ravi Zacharias and his "Let My People Think" messages.  His current message series is about people who are angry at God. He has a guest psychologist on this message, and it got me thinking . . . One of my favorite ideas about being Angry at God is from Jack Hayford, (another of my favorite podcasts) is that you can be Angry at God without much fear of reprisal, but that it's not particularly beneficial.  It doesn't accomplish much.  Our Anger, I think, does not particularly move God and it's not particularly beneficial to ourselves. He'll put up with it, but our Anger at Him acts as a barrier. It keeps us distant from him.  We cut ourselves off from a source of solace, comfort and growth when we're angry at him.  Of course, we do this with each other too.

Anger at God is almost always a projection.  God does not deserve our anger, and we misplace a lot of anger onto him. Our anger at God is ego-centric.  It presumes that we have a better perspective on how things should be than He does.  We get angry at God when we see suffering; either in our own lives or in people around us, and we think "Why don't you do something about that God?"  We have no real idea what He's doing, but in our anger, think we've got a clearer picture of how things should be.  When we're angry at God we're like a petulant child; impatient, hurt, feeling misunderstood or ignored, wanting our way regardless of the consequences.  God is patient with us in such times, but the longer we hold on to our anger, the harder and harder it is to see God accurately.

In the Ravi Zacharias message, Ravi was speaking to the issue of anger in atheist. He was wondering aloud if anger at God is at the heart of atheism, because he as encountered it so often.  I think the answer is a qualified "yes."  Almost every atheist I've encountered is an antheist for psychological reasons more than logical or philosophical reasons.  The atheist generally assumes they are being logical, but they often do not know their own heart.  The quintessential quote for this is from C.S. Lewis who said (not an exact quote here), "I didn't believe God existed and I was angry at Him for not existing."  I think much of atheistic anger is misplaced anger against one's own father or mother, or perhaps because it is simply difficult to live well.

Here are some general principles about anger from the Bible.  It is not a sin.  We need to be honest with our anger.  Anger is never encouraged in our characters as a motivation.  It never produces good things in our lives, but it can sure get in the way of emotional well being and productivity.  Outburst (uncontrolled) anger is a sign of deep self-centeredness.

I think the only real solution when we're feeling angry with God is to talk to Him about it.  We won't feel like talking to him, because anger is the emotion of separation.  But that's what we need to do. We need to yield our anger to Him, so we can allow Him to help us.  And He will help us when we ask.  When we do this, (tell Him we're angry, ask for his help, adopt a humble or yielded position with him), then our hearts are in the right place for change.  We have the possibility of growing our point of view, so that perceived injustices or inaction on God's part, are clarified.  We can see where and how God is working rather than just being angrily accusing Him that He is not, or that the suffering and circumstance is His fault or responsibility.

God is Good.  All the time.  He never wills suffering (in spite of what some of my Calvinist friends might say).  He will use our suffering to teach us if we allow Him to.  It is always His desire for us to be blessed and to grow and prosper.  He is perfectly willing to use us to accomplish His will, and that may in fact involve suffering when we are warring with the enemy (or our own nature).  But the suffering itself is incidental; not the main objective.  When He uses us and we yield to Him it feels good; like the coach sending us in for the next play.  If we persevere through the suffering there is a huge payoff; emotionally, psychologically, relationally, materially.

So; If you're feeling angry with God, lay it down. Talk to Him. Ask Him his perspective. Ask Him to show you what your anger is all about.  And learn from Him.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.