Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Why Is God Mad at Me?

Why Is God Mad at Me?

Do you feel that God is angry at you? Do you feel that God looks upon you with a frown, displeased at who you are and what you do? Sadly, many people feel this way. They imagine God to be a cosmic cop, a being of anger and wrath who longs to ticket them for their spiritual infractions. Perhaps they grew up hearing that God would smite them if ever they stepped out of line. Perhaps their own sense of sinfulness makes them feel that they are recipients of divine judgment. 

Whatever the root cause is, this fear of God’s anger keeps us from experiencing the new life that Jesus has to offer. When we believe that God’s primary response to us is one of anger or disappointment, we keep Jesus at a distance. This creates within us a tremendous amount of undeserved guilt, shame, and fear. Sure, God may be loving to everyone else, but we believe God is angry at us.

Complicating matters is the fact that Scripture does, in fact, speaks about God’s righteous anger. Anger, like love, appears to be an emotion that God feels. Yet does this mean that God is ever, truly, mad at us? Does anger ever replace love?

If you are someone asking yourself ‘why is God mad at me?’ let me put you at ease. God is not angry at you. God does not hate you, or dislike you, or reject you. God’s is steadfast in love, infinite in mercy, and endlessly forgiving. This is the truth of God, revealed in Jesus, and sealed on the cross. Of this, you can be sure.

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What Does the Bible Say about God's Anger?

God does get angry. Scripture makes this clear. For example, Exodus 4:14 records that the “Lord’s anger burned against Moses.” Here, Moses attempts to work himself out of his divine commission. God calls, Moses refuses; this is upsetting to the Lord. Interestingly, however, the word translated “anger” is the Hebrew word aph, which can also mean “nostril.” The image presented in the text is that the Lord “flared his nostrils” before Moses. Essentially, God allows Moses to recognize how his denial of God’s will upsets his Lord. 

Undoubtedly this is an uncomfortable experience. And yet, God’s displeasure at Moses’ rejection of his call does not end in wrathful condemnation. God’s anger does not cause God to hurl lightning bolts from the sky. God responds in grace. “What about your brother Aaron? I know he can speak well”, God responds (Exodus 4:14). Despite Moses’ attempt to forsake his calling, God accepts Moses’ weakness, and even makes provisions for it. 

Throughout the scriptures, from Abraham to Moses, David to Solomon, Peter to Paul, we see God willingly work with fallen humanity. God’s displeasure at the presence of sin or idolatry never displaces the divine grace that stands at the center of God’s eternal character. Ultimately, this is what makes Yahweh different than the vengeful gods of the other nations. The angry gods of other nations did not live in covenant relationship with the people. These cosmic cops were more concerned with the right execution of rules and regulations rather than an ongoing love relationship. Yahweh, however, is different. God describes himself as “a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). God longs for his people. 

There is something truly freeing about recognizing that God is so invested in a relationship with humanity that God willingly chooses to be affected by the actions of those whom God loves. What we may term anger, then, is more a feeling of complete and utter longing for the redemption of those whom God has made. God willingly feels hurt when we reject his ways. Yet even this is a profound testimony to the depth of love God has for us.

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Why Is God Mad at Me… or at Least it Feels Like It?

When we ask ourselves, ‘why is God mad at me,’ it begs another question: Why do I sometimes feel that God is angry at me? The answer is that, like Moses, God allows us to feel the break in our relationship. Like any couple in love, we feel whenever there is a strain on our relationship. God “flares his nostrils” so that we can recognize where, and when, we have stepped out of his will for our lives. 

Perhaps the most clear-cut example of this is found in Genesis 3, the sin of Adam and Eve. Not only is this account instructive for our understanding of fallen humanity, but it also highlights how God responds to human sin. After all, if ever there were two people more deserving of wrath, it would be Adam and Eve. They had but one job. There was one restriction to their physical and spiritual livelihood. All the couple needed to do was enjoy the bounty of God and resist one, solitary, temptation.

Yet they could not do it. Both are tempted; both eat the fruit; both sin. The effect of their action is dramatic and immediate. Covering themselves in shame and guilt, they hide from the Lord. 

God could have come down in wrath and vengeance. God’s anger could have raged, causing him to unleash an onslaught of divine condemnation. Ye that is not who God is. Instead, God calls to the wayward couple. God beckons them to come forward and disclose their truth. And in the end, while they, and all creation, must bear the consequences of sin, God graciously provides for the couple by making garments of skin for them. What is more, God speaks of the future and promises that one day, this sin would be redeemed (Genesis 3:15).

What we mistakenly translate as divine anger is often our own sense of guilt or shame. We feel the separation from God that we have brought about by our own actions. This internal guilt makes us feel that God’s presence will mean our eternal destruction. So, we hide; We push Jesus away. In essence, we condemn ourselves. 

God may be displeased when we forsake him, but that does not take away God’s love or God’s forgiveness. Our inward feeling of guilt or shame does not mean that we are divinely cast off. In fact, when we feel this way, God’s response to us is the exact opposite of condemnation. God calls to us. God invites us to God’s self to be redeemed, loved, and forgiven. 

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What Can We Learn from God's Forgiveness?

All Scripture testifies to the grand story of God’s forgiveness. From the Garden of Eden to the cross of Calvary, the story of God’s interaction with humanity is one of constant love. God forgives the wayward and sinful. It matters not the depth of sin, or how many times it may have occurred. God is infinitely loving, and steadfastly forgiving. 

Jesus expressed the relentless love of God in the most dramatic ways possible. When asked how many times one should forgive another, for example, Jesus tells a parable in which a person’s debt of 10,000 talents is forgiven (Matthew 18:21-35). 10,000 talents represented an exorbitant amount of money, more than any one person could ever repay. One talent alone represented approximately 20 years of work for the common laborer. To translate this amount into today’s currency, the debt would exceed 8 billion dollars. 

And yet, the master forgives, graciously, freely, and completely.

This is the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). God does not scowl at us from a distance. God forgives. This is displayed continuously throughout the gospels. Jesus forgives those caught in sin and calls others to the ministry of forgiveness. On the cross, hanging before the very people who hit him, spat on him, and drove nails through his hands and feet, Jesus speaks a word, not of anger or vengeance, but of forgiving love. “Father,” he prayed, “forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

The theologian Karl Bart once wrote that we must never take sin more seriously than grace. The same truth can be applied to the times when we may feel God’s anger. We must never allow ourselves to take God’s anger more seriously than God’s loving forgiveness. Yes, we can recognize that God is displeased over sin and waywardness. We may even recognize how stepping outside of God’s will causes God some element of harm. Yet nothing in life can ever displace God’s love and grace toward us. As the Psalms remind us, God is slow to anger, and abounding in love (Psalm 103:8).

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There may be several reasons why we ask the question, “Why is God mad at me?” Perhaps we grew up thinking that God was waiting to repay us for all our spiritual mistakes and sins. Or, perhaps we feel that our own sin is beyond the scope of God’s forgiveness; we have done too much or wandered too far away. There is no truth in such statements. These are devilish lies restricting us from the new life Jesus holds out for us.

In Isaiah 49:16, the Lord declares “I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.” This Old Testament proclamation of divine love and intimacy is fully enacted on the cross of Christ. The cross is a grand display of Christ’s unyielding, unfathomable love for us all. It declares beyond any doubt, argumentation, or contradiction, that the Lord’s love is constant. No matter what has taken place in our lives, we are always invited to experience the grace of Jesus. The spread-out arms of the crucified Lord is the welcome invitation to be embraced by his love. There is nothing in heaven or earth, or in life or death, that can thwart the love of God received in Jesus Christ. This is a promise.

So, is God ever mad at you? No. God doesn’t seethe in anger over you. God doesn’t desire to cast you from God’s presence. God loves you. God longs for you. God delights in you. And more than anything, God wants you to experience this reality. To that end, Jesus calls you to himself. Amen.

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SWN authorThe Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.  He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.comibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.  He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca.  He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.