Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Why It’s Okay to Get Mad at God Sometimes

  • Jason Hague
  • 2018 4 Oct
Why It’s Okay to Get Mad at God Sometimes

When followers of Jesus find ourselves at odds with the Almighty, we face a common dilemma: Do we give voice to our anger, or do we squelch it? Oftentimes, when we face hardship—sickness or death, separation from loved ones or silence from heaven—our first inclination is to smother the negative emotions. We tell ourselves, “A child of God ought not feel such things.” God is good, after all. We know He is good. We talk all the time of His lovingkindness. We even sing praise anthems to our “good, good Father.”

Our emotions don’t cooperate so easily, though. Disappointment hangs around. Anger lingers until it becomes an embarrassment to us. A shame. Sooner or later, we have to find a way to deal with it.

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When Life Deals Blows We Don’t Understand

When Life Deals Blows We Don’t Understand

This happened to me as a thirty-year-old man. It had begun with Jack. He was my first boy, and I had a lot of expectations riding on our relationship. At first, my vision of our future seemed promising, but when he turned two, Jack lost his words. I mean all of his words. It was as if he went into some kind of fog that none of us could break into.

“Jason, I think Jack has autism and you’re in denial,” my mother told me. I laughed at first, because that’s what people in denial do. But she was right, of course, and it soon became clear that Jack’s autism was going to be the extra-tricky kind: the kind where the boy couldn’t share the connection I so desperately wanted. That was the first blow.

Then came my newborn son, Jack’s little brother. The doctor heard it when he put the stethoscope to the baby’s chest: There was a hole between the chambers of his heart. It would require open-heart surgery. That was the second blow.

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When Our Pain Becomes Too Much

When Our Pain Becomes Too Much

These two events would have been hard enough, but they were especially bad for me, because I had little experience with crisis and hardship. When I was growing up, my family had been intact, my parents kind, my siblings accepting. So naturally, I expected life to be relatively crisis-free.

The third blow came when my dear friend Karen—a ministry partner and virtual sister—informed me that she had cancer for the third time, and that this time, the doctors could not treat it. She was going to pursue alternative treatments, but already, her body was breaking down. I knew she was dying.

That’s when it all became too much for me. I had always believed in the goodness of God, but I wasn’t seeing it anymore. I was past denial. I was furious. So what was I to do?

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Trying to Smother Our Anger Doesn’t Work

Trying to Smother Our Anger Doesn’t Work

At first I tried to smother those flames out of a sense of Christian duty. I dared not give voice to my disappointment, my frustration, or my anger. That all seemed somehow out of bounds.

But is it really? Why do we carry such notions of propriety with God? If He is indeed all-knowing, doesn’t He already see the truth as it really exists?

The fact is, Scripture is littered with people who responded exactly the opposite. Rather than trying to hide their anger at God, they told Him outright.

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Getting Real with God

Getting Real with God

Consider this psalm of David:

Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear. - Psalm 22:1-2

That’s quite an accusation, isn’t it? But that passage is pretty normal for David. He even drew attention to the way his body reacted to his anger:

Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily. - Psalm 55:2

There are many, many more examples in the Psalms. Consider this passage, written by the sons of Korah:

Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression? - Psalm 44:23-24

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Letting Out Anger So You Can Let Go of It

Letting Out Anger So You Can Let Go of It

Now, did God really “forget” the affliction of His people? Was He actually sleeping? Casting them off? Hiding His face? Of course not. But that isn’t the point. The point is, those resentments were already present, and if the psalmists had left them there, they would have throbbed and swelled and gotten in the way of relationship with God. It is far better to get them out.

This is precisely what Job did when he said,
Will You never turn Your gaze away from me,
Nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle?
Have I sinned? What have I done to You,
O watcher of men?
Why have You set me as Your target,
So that I am a burden to myself? - Job 7:19-20, NASB 

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Cast Your Burdens on God

Cast Your Burdens on God

Such examples are abundant in Scripture. Over and over again, the great men of God were unflinchingly honest with their heavenly Father. They wrestled with Him, they argued with Him, and they prayed raw and brutal prayers. Even Jesus Himself, while hanging from a tree, cried out with the words of David, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1).

So why do we try to hide our frustration? Why do we smother our angry prayers? It’s better to follow what Scripture tells us: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

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Pouring Out Our Grief

Pouring Out Our Grief

In my personal three-pronged crisis, I stayed silent for a while until it all became too much. I finally decided to do what that psalm said. One afternoon, I poured out my grief. I was so scared about my sons: about Jack’s wordlessness and Sam’s heart condition. I was furious about Karen’s cancer. It didn’t make sense, and it wasn’t fair, and I told God so. I screamed and raged at the heavens, half expecting a bolt of lightning to fall on me. But it never came.

And then, just as quickly as I had begun, I fell silent. I ran out of words. I had spoken my fears aloud, and I was finished. Rather than letting my anger fester, I had cast it upon Him, and He had received it all.

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Healing Our Hearts

Healing Our Hearts

I won’t say things got better because of my prayer. He didn’t snap His fingers and bring resolution to my crises. But there was a change: He drew close. Or rather, my heart drew close to Him. There was no longer a barrier of cold accusation. The healing in my own heart could begin.

I know it sounds like blasphemy, but it isn’t. God is a big God. He can handle all the rot that sits inside us. In fact, He knows it’s there already, and He can only set us straight if we’re honest with Him. So rather than forcing smiles onto our faces—rather than carrying stale resentments in our chests—it is better to bring Him all the ugliness that He already sees, and let Him carry us instead.

He has promised to walk with us. To never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to forgive our sins and heal our hearts. It’s time to take Him up on that.

Jason Hague is an associate pastor at Christ's Center Church in western Oregon. He chronicles his personal journey online at JasonHague.com, where he uses prose, poetry, and video to share his experiences as a father to a severely autistic boy. Jason has been married to Sara for seventeen years, and they have five children.

Aching Joy is available for purchase at Navpress.com.

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