Anger at God is not a new concept. It’s something people wrestle with frequently, from my experience. I don’t think it’s anything that people know what to do with. Life comes at us and when it’s overwhelming and awful, we get mad. There’s a feeling of betrayal and an anger that we don’t know what to do with, and so it has to be directed somewhere. If it’s not directed at the ones we love in our lives, we direct it at a higher power of some form. In the case of those with faith, it usually goes at God.
I think a lot of times it feels like we’re not allowed to be mad at God. It feels unnatural to be angry with the One we associate with love and good and holiness. That sentiment ties back into one of my prior blog posts about how we view God. Do we view Him (or Her) as someone who only brings good, or do we see God as someone who brings good and bad? I generally view God as one who brings only good. In my mind, I can’t reconcile a God of love and peace with a God who brings untimely death and suffering.
If you follow the Christian faith, there is the old testament to wrestle with, but depending on your particular denomination, you put more or less weight on that testament. The way that I’ve been raised and the belief I’ve accepted is that the new testament replaces the old, for lack of a better phrase. The old still matters, it gives us a picture of where we’ve been and who we were, and it shows us God’s history with us, but our requirements of faith (again, for lack of a better phrase) have been replaced. Or, depending on your viewpoint, removed. We are saved by the Grace of Christ, and we only need to live through him to gain God’s favor. Some believe we do not have to do anything, universal salvation. Perhaps that’s a topic for another time.
So what do with do with our anger? How do we reconcile that anger with our faith? I’ll be honest with you and say that I don’t know. I’ve had a few times in my life where bad things have happened. One of the first times I really struggled with this was when I was in college. I was working at a summer camp as a counselor and within 2 weeks, I found out that my friend from high school died shortly after he turned 18, and then my cousin died shortly after turning 19. At the time, and over the rest of the summer, I was depressed and sad.. well, more than sad but I’m not sure what a more appropriate adjective is without sounding pompous. When I got back to college, the anger really set in and my struggle really started.
I was furious. I went to summer camp to work and have a fun-filled summer with personal growth. It was supposed to be somewhere that I bonded with life long friends (which I did, at least one or two), and lots of fun and harmless pranks. My world should have been filled with laughing kids and sweet moments of learning from them as they learned from me. A lot of that did happen, but it was soured, and I made more than my fair share of missteps with directing my anger at the wrong people. So when I got back to college, I got mad.
I felt like I had been robbed of my summer. My opportunity to try something new was tainted by these life tragedies. Why in the world did God decide that my first summer away would be the one where I would face this kind of tragedy for the first time? I hadn’t known death before that summer. It took me years to work through that anger. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t have taken as long if I had seen a counselor, but at the time it didn’t cross my mind. I think it even took me a good couple years to stop being mad at God about the deaths.
Being mad at God about that didn’t mean that I stopped believing in God. It just changed my perception of Him/Her. It caused me to re-think my beliefs and values. Did I really see God as someone who would dole out good with bad and know exactly what to give us and when? I used to think that, but my opinion started changing that summer. How could God be someone who does that but still professes to love us more than anything?
So we all get mad at God at some point about something. Even now there are times that I just think “really? Really right now?”, and then catch myself in that thought. Anger is a part of life, but where we direct that anger and how we work through it is important, and I think God can handle it when we’re angry at Him/Her. Like a parent handles a child’s anger, God is able to see that we’re working through some shit, and we just need to be mad for a while.