Anger with God

The RCL (Resources for Changing Lives) Ministry Booklets published by P&R Publishing are helpful tools. They approach issues like depression, abuse, procrastination, stress, etc. from a biblical perspective and boil down the advice to around 30 pages. While they are nowhere near an exhaustive answer, they serve people well as a foray into a given issue. Especially useful in counseling settings, the RCL Ministry Booklets help provide biblical answers to people in need.

Probably everyone has talked with someone who was angry with God at some point in their lives. Knowing how to respond is sometimes challenging. On the one hand, the Psalmists often pour out their confusion and anger to God. They express anguish to him in ways that make us cringe! But on the other hand, actual anger with God says more about a hurting and angry person than it does about divine culpability.

In his RCL Ministry Booklet Anger: Escaping the Maze, David Powlison describes what is at the heart of anger with God: self-righteousness and unbelief.

God has never promised freedom from tears, mourning, crying, and pain – or from the evils that cause them – until the great day when life and joy triumph forever over death and misery. The interweaving of God’s glory and our well-being is far bigger than people imagine. People who are angry with God have often believed false promises or overlaid their own (unjustified) expectations upon God. They have then become angry with a “disappointing” God, sometimes even confusing his actions and motives with Satan’s and with evil people who imitate the Devil’s cruelty.

It is curious how people who don’t really believe in the sovereignty of God act as if they do (“He could have changed things and didn’t”) when they are angry with him. To really believe in God’s sovereignty is to gain an unshakable foundation for trust in the midst of even hellish torments, let along the milder pains.

The real God is the deliverer from tyrants. He is the only hope of the “poor, afflicted, needy, unfortunate, and oppressed.” And – a truth so profound that we can only say it with trembling – when we are honest with ourselves, we realize that the line between good and evil runs through every heart except God’s. We are more like the tyrants than unlike them. It’s not that we deserved what others did to us. That was simply evil, and it will be dealt with fully and justly by God. But that does not mean that we are thereby innocent people. We also deserve wrath for our own sins. And here, Jesus suffered the tortures we fairly deserve.

The anger at God tat counselors often see typically masks self-righteousness and expresses blatant unbelief. But the world’s therapeutic formula never challenges that. Because it never talks about the sinfulness within anger at God, the therapeutic formula can never offer the only true hope for such strugglers: the Savior who will deliver his people from the condemnation and corruption of their own sins, and from the pain of other people’s sins.

Pgs. 7-9

Ministering to those who claim to be angry with God takes wisdom. A stern rebuke, though appropriate in one sense, misses an opportunity to help those struggling. It is rather by placarding the glories of Him who suffered to the utmost that we drive people to despair of their conceptions of what God ought to be doing for them. It is then that they can find rest in the God who has decisively dealt with pain and suffering at the cross. And while we must learn to wait for the final righting of every wrong, we are promised that that day is indeed coming!

Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church
Anaheim, CA