Sidetracking to a Theological Issue

I know that “theology” doesn’t sound interesting. I could have aimed for a more “with it” title by saying this is a “God issue,” and that would be pretty accurate. But part of my underlying thought on the subject I want to discuss has to do with the disrespect we show God. Not intentionally. It’s more the casualness we talk about Him, as if He’s a good buddy, or would be if He would just toe the line and do what I know He’s capable of. After all, I believe in Him. You can do it, God, you can do it, I know you can. Yea, God!

Well, you get what I’m saying, I’m sure. That casual, even flip way of talking to and about God undoubtedly has a number of origins and may not be all bad, but it’s really only a fringe issue to the one I want to discuss.

Recently I’ve been made aware of a number of books that discuss being mad at God. As far back as 1988 Philip Yancey wrote Disappointment with God, and ever since, it seems we’ve escalated our reaction to things we don’t like. Now it manifests itself as anger toward God.

Please understand, I’m aware that a believer can go through a crisis of doubt, especially when difficulties arise, but the new thinking seems to be that to be mad at God is normal, even somehow healthy, and certainly understandable.

Today I came across a verse in Lamentations I had marked:

Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sin?
– Lamentations 3:39

In the margin of my Bible I wrote “Satan counters with his great lie—man is good so that gives the feel of justice in complaining to God.” Or against God. After all, if man is good, then he doesn’t deserve the consequences of sin he must live with—sickness, pollution, crime, cruelty, hatred, death. We are, instead, innocent victims of God’s inexplicable abuse of His omnipotence. And of course we should be mad about it.

That’s very much the way the people of Judah responded when they were conquered by Babylon and dragged into slavery. The people that were left ran back to their false gods, concluding that all the trouble they had experienced came because they had stopped worshipping those gods in the first place. Never mind that Jeremiah had been prophesying for years that God would bring judgment upon them because they had ignored and disobeyed Him.

God said from day one after Adam sinned that life would be hard and Man would die. We come along and act shocked and hurt and shake our fists at God and say, “Life is hard and people I love are dying. What’s more, I’m sick/aging and can only conclude, death is creeping up on me!”

What are we thinking? Life was hard for Jesus, for goodness sake, and He died.

Instead of this anger thing, we should be rejoicing that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.

Much more to say on the subject, but I’ll stop there for now.

Published in: on March 4, 2008 at 11:25 am  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. Becky,
    This is awesome! I like it when you sidetrack! My husband has been a great teacher in this for me. I’ve heard him say sometimes, during a difficult situation or when bad news has come, “Well, Praise the Lord.” He’s sincere too. God is working all things for our good and His glory if we belong to Him.

    This is great! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Kim

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  2. Mannnnn…God must be on the move. Amazing how spot on this topic is as we recently experienced a very hard loss in our church family. And your words resonate with truth, Becky.

    However,when we face a situation like a death in the family or a Christian we admire falling…we are often left with much grieving to do. And part of that process is dealing with anger…even anger at God. Just as a child who doesn’t understand why his father has told him he cannot play the video game all night, we can grow angry at God because we just don’t understand what He’s doing. It’s an ignorant kind of anger, but it’s real. That anger should not remain, and I think most who feel that anger repent eventually. The thing I love about God is that He is not afraid of honest feelings. We can pray to Him even in anger. I find reassurance in the Psalms as David cries out to God, wonders about God, and even seems angry with God.

    I’ve just started a series on my blog about our deepest need. And my second segment will cover some of these same issues. Thanks for food for thought.

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  3. Interesting you bring up this subject. I just had a conversation with someone the other day about this very topic. I’ve been a Christian since I was a child and I don’t remember ever being angry at God. I never felt I had any right to be angry with God. I’ve been hurt and felt disappointed that tragedies could not be averted, but have not felt anger. I hope I never do. Thanks for the verse from Lamentations.

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  4. Kim, I have a friend who has been a good example for me, but for the longest time, I didn’t get what she was saying. I mean, isn’t there something about being genuine and transparent and authentic?

    I’m certainly not at the place where my first thought is, Praise God. I wish I was there.

    Surprisingly, I don’t think having any of those negative emotions—grief, disappointment, anger even—are sinful. When I smash my finger, it hurts. My saying Ow is not wrong. Slamming someone else’s finger would be. Accusing God of being mean to me because He let me smash my finger would be. Continuing to focus on the hurt, especially after it’s stopped hurting, would be.

    I think the same might be true with other forms of suffering.

    Becky

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  5. Wayne, you said: we can grow angry at God because we just don’t understand what He’s doing. It’s an ignorant kind of anger, but it’s real. That anger should not remain, and I think most who feel that anger repent eventually.

    I think the point is, we’re at a place in our culture where we think God owes us an explanation. If He’d just tell us what He’s up to, and if we agree it’s a pretty important reason to put us through this misery, well, then, OK.

    Instead, I think we should trust God because He is God. I don’t need to understand it all, and certainly He doesn’t need my approval. But that not needing to know seems to grate against our pride. As it should. Maybe that’s the real point of suffering—to bring us humbly to our knees before our God.

    And yes, I think many who are angry at God do repent. Which shows again that accusing Him of wrong doing is sin.

    That we sin is a fact. That God provides forgiveness when we do is a joy. That we excuse our sin and say it is normal and therefore OK and even to be encouraged is horrific.

    Becky

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  6. Terri, I don’t really believe in coincidences. How amazing our God is, to bring me to that verse and prompt me to write about this subject because you and Wayne and … who knows what others would be reading.

    Interesting you said you’ve not been angry with God. Maybe trusting God at a young age makes it easier to accept that He knows best.

    For much of my life, I would have said the same about me. But not so long ago, I realized I’ve acted like I’m angry. It comes out in the form of complaining. If I could change one thing about the way I acted on the job, with my parents, that might be it.

    Becky

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  7. I’ve been angry at God. I figure if I have a relationship, part of a relationship is feeling truly what I feel. I’ve felt anger at God, so why should I deny it or consider it warped. I love my husband more than anyone, would die for him, and I get angry with him. 🙂

    In the case of my time of deep anger with God–one time–it came at a very dark time, a time when I wished to die, pleaded with God to take my life, and was very angry that He seemed to stand by and do nothing to fix what He could so easily fix with a thought, a syllable, a desire.

    If anything, my relationship came out stronger, because I didn’t repress, bottle up, and play the facade of nice and subservient. No, I shouted, I spoke up. And, in time, real surrender and submission came, and though the problems remained, the pain and lack of desire to live even remained for a while, I had moved into a deeper place with God.

    For some, anger sets them away from the Holy Face. In my case, it was part of moving closer and seeing that my need for him and my love were greater than any anger. In the end, I said, “thy will be done.” But my Gethsemane was a loud one, even while respectful, the way I might be angry at my father or mother when alive–forceful, but respectful. 🙂

    I say if someone feels anger at God, examine the source of it, and, if it is too big to deny, then express it to Him..yes, express it. Let God use it and turn it into something better and, in his own merciful way, show you why He is the one who gets the last say.

    Mir

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  8. Mir, I tried to address this in my Thursday post. I appreciate you sharing your personal experience. I do think the thing to do when we’re confronted with suffering of any kind is take it to God. It’s the counsel that says it’s OK to blame it on God that I’m objecting to.

    Becky

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