Last week I posed a question: Is it a sin to be angry with God?
The thoughtful responses I received were all so good that I thought I would collate some of them into ‘top tips’ in dealing with anger with God. Do check out all the comments in full.
I’ve been thinking hard about my own response to the question, and will be posting on that in a couple of days.
1. Take your anger to God
Esther: There are times when I have felt angry at God or let down by Him… The Bible teaches me that God is good all the time, yet my emotions tell me I am hurting. In these times I have felt led to confront the mystery of the things that don’t make sense and to come to God with my honest feelings. He has seen them already so it’s best to come out into the open.
Tricia: God created us. He knows we are emotional creatures and He knows when we aren’t being honest with him so what’s the point in pretending we aren’t angry with him?
Diana: When my ‘rant’ [at God] is over I always feel calmer and then can say sorry for my anger, praise Him for listening and loving Him for His faithfulness – all in all it’s an honest relationship.
2. Think about what is causing your anger
Roz: I know my anger toward God in the past is because I don’t know Him well enough and I prefer to be the victim
Alice: Sometimes anger is an expression of our rage at not being the centre of the world. We are not worshipped and served and adored in the way we would like and it makes us angry. We sometimes need to stop and recognise that and confess it and re-view our world with a more godly perspective.
Sipech: The source of our anger may well be that we don’t understand what’s going on – why? For example, one of my friends (a young, married father) has recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Esther: It can be when we feel we have been treated unjustly or unfairly. Perhaps it is when needs or expectations haven’t been met. I can feel angry when I have felt misunderstood or when I asked for something but it wasn’t done.
Emily: [Ask yourself} who am I angry with? And why am I angry with them? I know that sometimes I feel anger, but misdirected- I get angry about the wrong thing, or attribute blame where it doesn’t belong.
Alice: Sometimes we need to change our words.
We are angry about… And we are discouraged that God is allowing it.
We are angry because… And we feel unloved by God because of it.
We are angry that… And we wonder whether God cares as much as we do?
We’re not always actually angry with God when we think we are!
3. What do we do with anger about global issues?
"Don't blame God for the sin in the world."
A Soulful Life: I am angry at the darkness that creates evil and injustice in the world, but I’m not angry at God. I think that sometimes we can get confused when we imagine that God creates evil or harmful, or just unfair things.
I saw a documentary about this little 9 year old girl in Zimbabwe, her mother was dying and she had to take care of her and her baby sister, her only family.
If I thought God was responsible for this little girl’s situation, I would be an atheist....But I see it as the darkness that our sin has allowed into the world through our selfishness, greed etc… That is the cause of the little girl’s suffering.
So I think sometimes it’s just anger misdirected.
"Take anger to God - He's ultimately responsible."
Roz: When [global] events simply overwhelm us with their size in contrast to our prayers then it is not surprising if God takes the rap because He claims to be all sovereign but evil still happens. He wants us to be angry, in so doing we help reflect Him to a broken world.
Gayle: There is a righteous anger when we witness injustices, or the negative effects of sin in the world, and in those cases we experience God’s heart for His creation and share in His righteous anger.
4. Invite God into the process of grieving
Janice: We have a son who was born with a complex heart defect who only lived for nine weeks. Amid all the other stages of grief we’ve been through in the past four years, anger has certainly had its part…And really, when you are dealing with issues of how a body was created and questions of life and death, who do you direct your anger and questions to besides God?
5. Remember that it’s about relationship with God
Janice: If my husband does something to make me angry, whether its ‘legitimate’ anger or not, I think it’s good to tell him about it. Even if I tell him just to explain, tell him I’m sorry and that I’m working to fix it. How is that different from God? …I should be able to tell him, even if I’m telling with an apology and asking for help with it.
Steph (Hope Unbroken): I certainly believe it’s possible to be sinfully angry at God. but i also believe it’s possible to be angry at God and very much like a toddler — highly in need of a stronger, steadier hand to guide us through the working out of our emotions, all the while embracing us and reassuring us that there is Someone greater in control.
Steph (Hope Unbroken): [Ask yourself] is my anger causing me to turn away from God, or continue to dialogue and draw near to Him?
6. Get angry, but don’t stay angry
Sipech: There is a difference between anger and resentment….Where I think there is danger is if the anger is allowed to fester and it turns into resentment.
Jo: When we argue and it is not resolved and we continue to sulk for a period of time afterwards, because we are digging our heels in and entrenching our position – that’s the dangerous type of anger that’s being talked about in ‘don’t let the sun go down on your anger’.
Gayle: I think the greater challenge is not to hold on to anger, not to let it seep into our heart and let bitterness take root, that is the hardest thing to do.
Over to you:
- What have you found helpful when you have been angry with God?