Afflictions, God’s Sovereignty, and Our Foundation (Powlison)

Good and Angry: Letting Go of Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness In chapter 17 of Good & Angry, David Powlison talks about being angry at God. Obviously it’s sinful to be angry at God and blame him of wrongdoing.  Powlison’s discussion of this topic is a good one; it’s worth reading for sure!  I especially appreciated the following paragraphs:

When the Bible portrays and discusses suffering, God always embeds the hardships we experience as a subset of his larger purposes.  These may not be at all obvious in the moment. But in the long run, all tears will be wiped away and we will live in a world with only love, joy, and peace.  Meanwhile, people may seriously let us down. Abusers heinously betray trust, and if hell has gradations, the atrocities they commit merit the deepest pit.  That’s to cite the worst case scenarios.  Many people who are angry at God have suffered more routine hardships: disappointment in love, financial disaster, a life threatening illness, death of a loved one.

Afflictions are hard. Sufferings hurt. People who are angry at God typically suffer the exact same kinds of pain (and enjoy many of the same blessings) as people who love God! Groaning about our sufferings (to God, in faith and hope) is heartily warranted. But God has never promised freedom from tears, mourning, crying, and pain — or from the evils that causes them – until the great day when life and joy triumph forever over death and misery.  

It is curious how people who don’t believe that God sovereignty rules all things become embittered hyper-Calvinists when they face sufferings and say, God could have changed things for me and he didn’t. He had the power, and he didn’t use it. It’s his fault. To actually believe that God rules for his glory and our welfare is to gain an unshakable foundation for trust and hope, in the midst of hellish torments, as well as amid the milder pains and disappointments.  

David Powlison, Good & Angry, p. 226-227.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54002

One Reply to “Afflictions, God’s Sovereignty, and Our Foundation (Powlison)”

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. However, I don’t think it’s sinful to be angry with God. God thoroughly understands all our emotions (after all, He created them) and allows us to express all our emotions to Him. I do agree, however, that it’s sinful to accuse Him of wrongdoing, since that’s not possible for Him.


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