In fashionable circles within many churches in America it is quite the rage to be angry at God. Doing so is said to relieve all sorts of issues and free us up to be better people. Not a day goes by that I do not hear or read about how necessary it is to be angry at God when we have to be.
But anger is a tricky emotion because it is a response to attack. We must, therefore, consider what is being attacked that we should respond in anger to anything, since anger is not typically a positive emotion.
If something that carries eternal value is attacked (e.g.—another person, the character of God), then we have recourse to be angry as long as we do not sin. Jesus himself was angry at the pharisees for leading the simple astray, and He was also angry at the moneychangers in the temple who besmirched the character of the Father by turning the Father’s temple into the world’s most thieving flea market.
If my wife is attacked, whether bodily or in character, I believe that God—who saw fit to give her as a blessed gift to me in the first place—honors the anger that I may possess as a result. Again, what I do with that anger is important.
But the kind of “righteous” anger we have is rarely directed improperly. We know the offenders and what they have done and why their offense causes anger in us. The poor man ripped off my the rich man, or the husband who beats his wife and children—those are enough to understand. Where it gets dicey is when we are angry not for righteous reasons, but unrighteous.
What defines unrighteous anger? In most cases, I believe that we become angry because something we cherish that is truly not of God is attacked—our hidden sin, our selfishness, our greed, our pride, our pet “brokenness,” or our sense of entitlement. I would suffice it to say that the inordinate amount of circumstances in which we are angry fall into this category. And none of this anger is for godly reasons.
So it is odd to me then that so many recommend we get angry at God since the strong tendency is that we are foolishly doing so based on unrighteous anger. The truth is that the very reason we are experiencing what is making us angry is that the Lord is trying to purge from our lives the very flawed thing to which we are clinging. To in turn blame God for His desire to make us holier is the ultimate in foolish thinking and ungratefulness.
The humble man or woman of God rarely becomes angry and never so at his/her Lord because such a person understands the nature of God’s goodness in cleaning us out. To become angry at our Maker is like the dog that bites the hand that feeds him.
The worst part of turning our anger against the Lord is that it does nothing but undermine faith. What faith is there in rejecting “Not my will, but Thine be done” in order that we may covet our anger? None at all. This is not the faith that says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Instead, being angry at God has the built-in assurance that we will continue to be angry and more often as we reject God’s merciful correction that leads us away from unrighteous anger and to the truth.
We should never have reason to be angry at God. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and His way is always perfect. Better to live then in submission and humility than to act like ungrateful mutts at feeding time.
4 thoughts on “Anger: It’s All the Rage!”
I agree that staying angry with God is not a good thing. However it seems to me that you are writing as if we choose to get angry with God rather than that this emotion arise within us in response to events in our lives. If we then choose to trust God we will not remain angry with Him, but will if necesary repent of holding on to whatever made us angry. But that is not the same as not getting angry.
Telling people not to get angry with God is an invitation to people to lie to themselves. We can lie to ourselves but we can’t lie to God. We can pretend that we are not angry with God, and then wander why we are cold, bitter Christians who do not experience the love of God, even though we know it to be true. In Psalms it says that God desires truth in the inmost parts and this involves being honest about how we feel.
It is only once we face the anger, and allow God to reveal to us why we are angry that we can see that it is (so often) our unrighteous desires, that cause us to anger. It is only by being honest that we can face whats really going on inside of us, and can then repent so that God can heal us as He wants to.
Found it at last! I had a recollection that you posted on this topic a while back and thankfully google found it for me. I have recently started to get niggled at the frequency of the phrase “it’s okay to be angry with God”. I have seen it encouraged and approved and even used the phrase myself but there has been a check in my spirit each time.
Thanks for provoking my thoughts on the subject. I’m going to meditate on it a little more but I do feel the phrase is symptomatic of the creeping influence of pop psychology. It is right up there with “you have to love yourself before you can love others” which is another of those phrases giving me suspicions at the moment.
Interesting stuff to think about…I have been examining my own anger lately—not toward God exactly, (although even our anger at people is often passive aggressive anger toward God I think). I also think this is true with “doubt”…people can make a pet idol of their own doubts about the goodness and reality of God, with the result that they never move on it their faith because they are so enamoured with their own response whether anger, doubt, or whatever. I think it always comes back to recognizing our right response to a holy God.
I think it’s irreverent and very foolish to get angry at God.