Is it Wrong to Be Angry With God? The Bible offers advice about how to act on your complaints and anger with God January 30th, 2015 Randy Petersen
Is it Wrong to Be Angry With God?
Is it Wrong to Be Angry With God? The Bible offers advice about how to act on your complaints and anger with God January 30th, 2015 Randy Petersen
Bible Blog

Everything’s going wrong, and you feel terrible. Not only sad or frustrated, but angry. You deserve better than this, don’t you? After you’ve blamed all the humans who have let you down, you turn your rage against God. How could your loving Creator let this happen to you? You have tried to be a good person—a faithful follower—and now this. Is there any justice?

If you’re feeling that way right now, know that you’re not alone. Many devout people have felt betrayed by God, and it results in a wide range of responses. Some stop believing. This can be a mental thing—they’re questioning everything they thought they knew about God. It can also be an emotional thing—they take revenge against God by rejecting their faith. I’ll stop believing in you! Take that! In some cases, people keep going through the motions of faith, but they’ve lost the fire. They’re still in a relationship with God, but they don’t trust him as much anymore. And in many other cases, people just seem to stall out. They feel guilty for feeling angry—obviously God is righteous and they must be very sinful for being upset with him—and they can’t seem to get past either of these feelings.

And then there are some who work through these situations to develop a stronger faith.

What does the Bible say about this? Is it wrong to be angry with God? Is there guidance for those maddening situations?

The first thing to recognize is the overwhelming number of biblical examples we have. If you think that the heroes of the faith just accepted everything that happened without a peep, think again. When Moses was upset with God, he told him so (Numbers 11:10-15). Samuel argued with God over the decision to give Israel a king (1 Samuel 8:4-9). Job vehemently pled his case before God, while his buddies tried to convince him that he deserved his suffering. In the Psalms, David and others scolded the Lord for mismanaging things (Psalms 13, 74, 94). Jeremiah and other prophets blamed God for letting the faithful poor starve while the wicked got away with murder (Jeremiah 12:1-4; Habakkuk 1:2).

If we were to add all those who questioned, doubted, or complained about the Lord’s doings, the list would be even longer. And what’s especially notable about this list is that these were the people closest to God. They were hailed for their faith. They are models for all believers.

So what did they do to get through these times of anger toward God?

They talked with him about it.

Okay, sometimes they screamed, hollered, wailed, and bellowed, but they brought their feelings before God. This might seem wrong to you. It might seem irreverent. But it’s like any relationship: the silent treatment doesn’t help. God already knows our hearts. He wants us to be honest with him about what’s in there.

Then they listened.

We know this from our human relationships as well. You can dump your complaints on someone else, but you’d better stick around for the fight. And the more you truly listen to the other person, the more it transforms from a fight to a conversation. We find the same pattern throughout Scripture in people’s interactions with God. The prophet Habakkuk climbs to his lookout post and waits for God’s response—and he gets a surprising new message (Habakkuk 2:1-4). The Psalmist enters the sanctuary and gains a new perspective (Psalms 73:17). A suicidal Elijah gets a meteorological object lesson in a desert canyon (1 Kings 19).

Through it all, they came to know God in a greater way.

For the most part, God does not scold people for complaining, but he does provide a larger picture of reality. One possible exception is the story of Job, where God shows up at the very end to announce, in essence, “I’m God and you’re not” (Job 38-41), yet the Lord restores what Job lost. Often our biggest problems with God stem from our own faulty expectations. An honest conversation with God, even including our gripes, allows him to show us who he really is.

The various complainers of Scripture often encounter the greatness of their Creator and respond with awe. “Let everyone on earth be silent in his presence,” Habakkuk whispers. Psalms of complaint routinely end in praise—not as a cover-up for the writer’s true feelings, but as a transformation of those feelings. In our contentious conversations with God, we learn that his ways are beyond our ways (Isaiah 55:9), that his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9), that he works on his own timetable (2 Peter 3:8-9). He’s not running the universe the way we want him to, but after talking things through, we realize that’s a pretty good thing.

But you can’t start at the end of that conversation. If you are fuming over something God has done or allowed, tell him so. That is an act of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says those who come to God must have “faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.” By bringing your beefs before him, you’re committing to a real relationship with a God who truly exists, and you’re trusting that he will reward you with insight. You may not get the answer you want, and it might not even seem like an answer, but you should emerge with a new awareness of his awesome presence.

Read more posts about: Daily Balance

Randy Petersen
Randy Petersen

Writer of more than sixty books and hundreds of church curriculum lessons, Randy Petersen has served churches as a Bible teacher, small-groups coordinator, drama director, preaching consultant and softball pitcher.

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