What to do when you’re angry with God
Being angry with God is something most Christians experience at some point in their lives. Even though life is an amazing gift, and something to be celebrated, there are seasons of pain, difficulty and disappointment for everyone. For those of us who have placed our trust in God and are on a journey of faith, there is an often unspoken assumption that things will always go well. When an unexpected difficulty arises, it can leave us wondering where God went. Isn’t he supposed to have our back? Did he take the day off?
Anger with God is normal
It’s the rare believer who can say they’ve never been angry with God. As much as we might not like to admit it, most of us have been periodically unhappy with God and the way our lives have gone. If you’re feeling angry with God, you’re not alone.
How do I know if I’m feeling anger towards God
We usually think of anger as one emotion that’s always experienced in the same way. But it might be helpful to think of anger as having a few different faces.
Disappointment with God
The most mild form of anger is disappointment. We usually don’t connect the two because disappointment feels more like sadness, but anger often begins with a sense of betrayal and the disappointment that follows.
Impatience with God
Feeling impatient or cranky is a great clue that lets us know anger is hiding just beneath the surface. When God seems to be ignoring our prayers, or taking too long to answer, we can quickly become impatient and angry with God.
What does the Bible say about anger
One of the most famous Bible verses about anger is Ephesians 4:26, “ Be angry, but do not let your anger lead you into sin, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” There are a few important things to notice in this verse.
God is ok with your anger
The first thing to notice is that God isn’t upset at you for being angry. Not even for being angry with him. This verse affirms that anger is a normal human response to any perceived injustice. Anger, in and of itself, is not a sin. It’s the way we respond to our anger that really matters, what we say or do as a result of our anger.
Being angry with God is a process
The second part of Ephesians 4:26 is a beautiful metaphor for the idea that emotions should not be suppressed. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have self-control in the way we express emotion, just that we shouldn’t ignore it. ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger’, let’s us know that it’s good and healthy to take the time to face our anger and process it, but also that the process shouldn’t go on indefinitely.
How to process anger
Processing anger in a healthy way can be a tricky thing to figure out. Venting our anger with no restraint can make life miserable for everyone around us. While suppressing anger can be damaging in other ways. Most experts agree that being able to articulate what we’re angry about, whether verbally or in writing, is an effective way to move through the process of being angry, towards a place of greater acceptance and peace.
Gratitude as an antidote to anger with God
Anger is an incredibly powerful emotion because it’s so strongly tied to a perceived sense of injustice. The intensity of this emotion can quickly lead to an obsession with the unfairness of the difficulty we’re experiencing. Left unchecked, it can take over our thoughts and color our entire life experience in a negative light. One practice that really helps to keep our anger in perspective is the practice of gratitude. Daily verbalizing or writing down the things we’re grateful for, while also acknowledging the things we’re angry about, helps us remember that along with the bad, there is also good.
Anger with God as an agent of transformation
Even though anger towards God is a natural human response for believers who are suffering, the journey of faith asks us to eventually move through our anger and arrive again at a place of acceptance and trust. It’s completely normal to feel disappointment and even anger at God when difficulty and suffering come our way, but what is offered us through the suffering is the possibility of a transformative process that leads us even closer to God.
The book of James, in the new testament, expresses this beautifully. “Consider it pure joy….,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”