OPINION | Being angry at God is something that many people, both believers and unbelievers, have wrestled with throughout time. When something tragic happens in our lives, we ask God the question, “Why?” because it is our natural response.
I learned recently that when a person uses the words, “Is it right to be angry at God?” he may be asking a very different question. He may be asking, “Is it right to express anger at God?” These are not the same question, and the answer is not always the same.
First, as believers we operate under the impression that life should be easy, and that God should prevent tragedy from happening to us. When He does not, we get angry with Him. Second, when we do not understand the extent of God’s sovereignty, we lose confidence in His ability to control circumstances, other people, and the way they affect us. Then we get angry with God because He seems to have lost control of the universe and especially control of our lives.
When we lose faith in God’s sovereignty, it is because our frail human flesh is grappling with our own frustration and our lack of control over events. When good things happen, we all too often attribute it to our own achievements and success. When bad things happen, however, we are quick to blame God, and we get angry with Him for not preventing it, which indicates the first flaw in our thinking—that we deserve to be immune to unpleasant circumstances.
Tragedies bring home the awful truth that we are not in charge. All of us think at one time or another that we can control the outcomes of situations, but in reality it is God who is in charge of all of His creation. Everything that happens is either caused by or allowed by God.
Not a sparrow falls to the ground nor a hair from our head without God knowing about it (Matthew 10:29-31). We can complain, get angry, and blame God for what is happening. Yet if we will trust Him and yield our bitterness and pain to Him, acknowledging the prideful sin of trying to force our own will over His, He can and will grant us His peace and strength to get us through any difficult situation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Many believers in Jesus Christ can testify to that very fact. We can be angry with God for many reasons, so we all have to accept at some point that there are things we cannot control or even understand with our finite minds.
Our understanding of the sovereignty of God in all circumstances must be accompanied by our understanding of His other attributes: love, mercy, kindness, goodness, righteousness, justice, and holiness.
When we see our difficulties through the truth of God’s Word—which tells us that our loving and holy God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), and that He has a perfect plan and purpose for us which cannot be thwarted (Isaiah 14:24, 46:9-10)—we begin to see our problems in a different light.
We also know from Scripture that this life will never be one of continual joy and happiness. Rather, Job reminds us that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7), and that life is short and “full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Just because we come to Christ for salvation from sin does not mean we are guaranteed a life free from problems. In fact, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” but that He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33), enabling us to have peace within, in spite of the storms that rage around us (John 14:27).
One thing is certain: inappropriate anger is sin (Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:26-27, 31; Colossians 3:8). Ungodly anger is self-defeating, gives the devil a foothold in our lives, and can destroy our joy and peace if we hang on to it. Holding on to our anger will allow bitterness and resentment to spring up in our hearts.
We must confess it to the Lord, and then in His forgiveness, we can release those feelings to Him. We must go before the Lord in prayer often in our grief, anger, and pain.
The Bible tells us in 2 Samuel 12:15-23 that David went before the throne of grace on behalf of his sick baby, fasting, weeping, and praying for him to survive. When the baby passed away, David got up and worshipped the Lord and then told his servants that he knew where his baby was and that he would someday be with him in God’s presence.
David cried out to God during the baby’s illness, and afterward he bowed before Him in worship. That is a wonderful testimony. God knows our hearts, and it is pointless to try to hide how we really feel, so talking to Him about it is one of the best ways to handle our grief. If we do so humbly, pouring out our hearts to Him, He will work through us, and in the process, will make us more like Him.
The bottom line is can we trust God with everything, our very lives and the lives of our loved ones? Of course we can! Our God is compassionate, full of grace and love, and as disciples of Christ we can trust Him with all things. When tragedies happen to us, we know God can use them to bring us closer to Him and to strengthen our faith, bringing us to maturity and completeness (Psalm 34:18; James 1:2-4). Then, we can be a comforting testimony to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). That is easier said than done, however.
It requires a daily surrendering of our own will to His, a faithful study of His attributes as seen in God’s Word, much prayer, and then applying what we learn to our own situation. By doing so, our faith will progressively grow and mature, making it easier to trust Him to get us through the next tragedy that most certainly will take place.
Anger at God is a result of an inability or unwillingness to trust God even when we do not understand what He is doing. Anger at God is essentially telling God that He has done something wrong, which He never does. Does God understand when we are angry, frustrated, or disappointed with Him? Yes, He knows our hearts and He knows how difficult and painful life in this world can be. Does that make it right to be angry with God? Absolutely not. Instead of being angry with God, we should pour out our hearts to God in prayer and then trust that He is in control and that His plan is perfect.