Forgiveness is an abiding theme that God has woven throughout His Word. We embrace it as an immutable tenet of our life of faith in Christ. It is the perfect expression of who God is, as love.
The Father gave His best, in the person of His only Son and our Savior. Jesus Christ, sacrificed His life, remitting humanity’s sin, so that we could joyfully abide in fellowship, indwelt by His Spirit in this life, and eternally, face to face.
We live in a fallen world and will inevitably experience the undesirable. Although Jesus overcame the world, He guaranteed that we would encounter tribulation (John 16:33), and when we do, it often has devastating outcomes either as the effect of conditions beyond our control or choices intentioned by others.
In Christian circles, we frequently speak of forgiveness between people but rarely explore something rather taboo, which is how to get over being angry with God. It seems like an unlikely topic, but essential considering Solomon’s wisdom:
I considered and observed on earth the following: The race doesn’t go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor food to the wise, nor wealth to the smart, nor recognition to the skilled. Instead, timing and circumstances meet them all. – Ecclesiastes 9:11
Although we pray, plan, and prepare, life will not always happen the way we dream or desire, even when we check all the “right” boxes. Sometimes, we pray and still miscarry. Sometimes, we hope and still bury our loved ones. Sometimes, we aspire and still don’t find a spouse. Without reconciling this disconnection with the God who permits the lovely and the life-shattering, we could otherwise plunge into progressive disenchantment, resulting in bitterness of the soul.
How we respond to God when we are under duress reveals our true hearts. If we respond in humility and submission, well and good. On the other hand, responding in anger toward the God of the universe is always sinful. Yet, His revelation of our inner attitudes is an act of divine grace.
He gives us the intent and the power to do the seemingly impossible, namely, to recognize His sovereignty when life seems unfair. Let’s explore some causes of anger against God, what the Bible has to say and show about it, and how to free our hearts from its tethers.
What causes anger against God?
Trouble happens to believers, as well as those lacking fellowship with God. When the unpleasant and unexpected happens, it can generate offense, disillusionment, and pain. Such disappointments produce feelings that are difficult to navigate alone, and sometimes, create internal conflict when God’s higher ways and thoughts clash with what we want. Failed expectation engenders offense and anger festers in offended hearts. Unresolved, such unrighteous anger skews our perspective of the Father who loves us and longs for fellowship.
Through trauma, and perhaps sin perpetrated against us, the enemy suggests lies that infiltrate our thinking. We gorge ourselves on them like forbidden fruit, erroneously believing that God is withholding goodness, like our first parents, Adam and Eve did, swallowing deception, dejection, and disenchantment, that tempt us away from God while harboring anger .
Trauma and its accompanying wounds intensify the fire of fury, the pierce of pain, and the bewilderment of feeling betrayed by the One who loves us most. How can we align with God if we abandon our trust in Him? How can we fuel our faith if we are guided by a falsehood that He failed us?
The problem is legitimate, yet when we don’t ask God our questions, we wallow in shame and its negative effects. When we don’t express our guilt about having anger toward Him, we increase the guilt, obstructing a clear view of God. When we withdraw from Him in veiled or outright bitterness because we feel God “should have” halted unjust actions, we widen the chasm that Jesus’ sacrifice was intended to close.
What does the Bible say about anger toward God?
Anger toward God deceives
Anger binds our hearts in deception because we refuse to agree with God’s way when we don’t understand it (Matthew 13:15). It scripts false narratives about God. Hurt tints our lens, causing us to misperceive God’s kindness as cruelty, and His protection as punishment.
Anger toward God hinders prayer
Anger directed at God restricts us from enjoying peace and freedom. It curtails the joy and reinforces the faith that accompanies answered prayer. It is impossible to receive from God and abide in intimate fellowship with Him while simultaneously harboring anger and resentment against Him. Living in submission to Him and seeking Him in faith are essential to savoring His friendship and receiving His rewards.
And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
In the initial chapters of the book that bears his name, Job is depicted as an upright man who experienced severe and successive trauma: the obliteration of his livelihood and possessions, the sudden death of all his children in one catastrophic incident, a debilitating health crisis, loss of status, accusation by his friends, and a disdainful lack of empathy from his spouse.
While he could have “cursed God and died,” as his wife urged, he instead acknowledged God’s omnipotence. Job announced that he was born unclothed, and when it was time, would leave this earth with nothing. He embraced God’s sovereignty and mercy amidst the most grueling earthly circumstance, and he blessed God, declaring that he would emerge “as pure gold,” through his fiery trial.
God permitted Job to meditate, weep, and reason with his friends and with God Himself. Yet, when he vocalized his own righteousness, God reminded Job to whom he was speaking.
In conclusion, Job further humbled himself, acknowledging God’s perfect nature and his own temporality. Furthermore, he prayed from a pure and forgiving heart for the same peers who berated his character and godly commitment. Job could have retained anger toward God, but his transformation from affliction to restoration hinged on his clear and obedient response to God.
Release from anger
We were created for ongoing, intimate fellowship with God. We can come boldly to Our Father. In fact, Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, beginning with that same assertion and acknowledgment, Our Father. God already knows and invites us to express the fullness of our emotions and experience.
Like Job, we don’t have to camouflage our raw feelings. Talk. Shout. Cry. Whatever the means of expression, be comforted by the fact that God bottles tears, and one day, will wipe them all away.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
Put it into perspective
Contrary to what the enemy whispers, what pains us also grieves God (Hebrews 4:15). The pain, however, does not eclipse the beauty He will form out of the ashes (Isaiah 61:3). We, like Job, can affirm and encourage ourselves that God has a plan for us beyond injustice and suffering.
God may be using difficulty to draw us into deeper fellowship, using delay and disappointment to open a door of opportunity and thereby employing affliction to develop spiritual fruit in us.
Thankfully, we don’t have to be permanently tethered to the sin of anger against God. We can emerge from the entrapment of recycled negative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and undesirable behaviors. Establishing healthier patterns begins with searching and surrendering our own hearts, where, in our anger toward Him, we may have offended the sovereign God of the universe.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! – Psalm 139:23
Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life. – Psalm 139:24
It is important to process our conflicting feelings about Him through authentic prayer. God can handle the intensity and volatility of emotions, even when they threaten to overwhelm us. He extends help by means of trusted family members, friends, pastors, and even Christian counselors. Reach out for an appointment today. We are equipped to support you and help you sort out the roots of your anger.
“Let It Go”, Courtesy of Brett Jordan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sculpture”, Courtesy of Jan Canty, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Praying”, Courtesy of Patrick Fore, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Breathe”, Courtesy of Tim Goedhart, Unsplash.com, CC0 License