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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Angry at God, Angry with God

Angry at God, Angry with God

By some unfathomable mystery of grace, there’s not once in my life I can recall being angry at God. I mean, He’s God. What He says goes. What He does is right and good and perfect.

Certainly I’ve questioned Him, though with decreasing frequency as the years pass. The more I know Him, the more I either understand Him or know better than to try and understand what He doesn't reveal when asked. And when I ask about something, I can trust He'll reveal as much as I need to know. It's okay if He gives no more than what the “Serenity Prayer” asks:

God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

With time I've learned that the serenity to accept the "things I cannot change"—or circumstances—is grounded in belief that the Lord is good and wise and controls the circumstances beyond my control.

The last year brought a number of difficult circumstances into my life.

Last autumn, for the first time, I had a fleeting moment of being angry with God before I came to myself and the anger was gone. I wish it had stayed gone. But that was just the beginning of a time of intense testing. By spring, there were more moments of being angry with Him. Though few enough to count on one hand, they evidence my pride—my desire to be in control.

This time of testing seems to be behind me. I didn't do as well on all parts of the test as I might like. But I do see a difference between being angry at God and angry with Him. To be angry at Him would be to see myself faced off with Him as an opponent. I've never seen Him as my adversary—not in the most painful moments of recent months, not during the last 23 years of walking with Him, not even before I met Him in 1985, when ignorance prevented me from knowing myself to be His enemy. I believe that even when I was His enemy because of my sins, He was still on my side, setting me up for the day I would come to Him for His forgiveness.

In this last year, I have still felt Him to be on my side. I never felt the coldness of anger at God. He was never for a single moment my opponent. When I thought Him being a bit hard on me and it hurt badly enough for me to get angry, I was angry with God.

Because He was always there with me. There was never a moment we weren’t in it together.

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  1. As usual you have given me much to ponder ... and I think of the verse that says anger doesn't work the righteousness of God ... sometimes it's difficult [at least for me] to trust. Perhaps a "suspicious trust" would be a more accurate term. Trust in His faithfulness, but suspicious of the experiences that may occur. "Oh ye of little faith" I am!

  2. When I thought Him being a bit hard on me and it hurt badly enough for me to get angry, I was angry with God.
    I really don't understand this sentence.

  3. Susan ~

    I'm grateful that you ponder this. I've spent many hours myself trying to understand why anger was there at all this year, when I'd never experienced it before.

    I think I understand what you mean by "suspicious trust." Or at least I can tell you what that's meant for me. I've trusted that whatever God's allowed in my life, He's meant it for my greater good. But I have not always trusted it possible to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials." (James 1:2) Looking at the original Greek, I can paraphrase that as, "make a judgment that it is thorough joy to be drowning in motley tests." I couldn't count the number of times I've considered that verse and thought, "You've got to be kidding me!" The "You've" would, of course, be directed to God's Word, and therefore to God—which exposes a lack of faith in me as well.

    Susan, I absolutely believe that, eventually, "all things work together for good for those who love God." But I will confess that I am still far from the point where I comprehend how to judge it thorough joy while in the throes of testing.

    (Lord, I know You're listening—could You please show me mercy as You continue to teach me? Are there gentler ways to learn it? Please help me be attentive to them.)

  4. Susan ~

    I was searching for something else I wanted to share with Natasa and stumbled upon something I wrote while in the "throes of testing" called "Obligation to be Happy." It may interest you.

  5. when i saw this on the dashboard, my initial reaction was "uh-oh." as you know, there's a bit of history in relationship to anger in at/with God in this one's life. in all honesty, i never thought of it as being different. (at OR with) to me it was the same. nor did i ever consider "control" to be pride. i'm guilty in that one! you sure gave me a lot to chew on today!!! gonna come back later after writing bit and give it some more consideration. your wisdom, spiritual maturity, discerment ,and the depth of your relationship with Him can be clearly seen in this post, Anne. usual:)

  6. Natasa ~

    Even though my sin is not counted against me because of the forgiveness I have in Jesus, and even though God looks at me without condemnation, I still walk in sin. Jesus has cleansed all of me by His blood, yet He insists on washing my feet from that sin I walk in.

    I recognize that whether it's called trial or testing or temptation (see "Test or Temptation?"), God is always at work in it. He wants
    • to cleanse us from that sin we walk in
    • make us poor in spirit so we're stronger in His Spirit
    • to draw us closer to Himself in the process

    I know all that. But when I went through a time when I thought I was responding as I should but the painful testing didn't end, I started to get angry at the pain, and then at the God Who was taking me through the pain. I thought that even if He needed to be working on me—whether to cleanse me, strengthen me, make me closer to Him—it shouldn't have to be so painful.

    But the anger never lasted for more than a few moments, and it didn't happen very often. Because I know without a doubt that He loves me, is always with me in the pain, and is never, ever for even a split second against me. He is always on my side, always with me.

  7. Bud ~

    I hope you remember that it's taken me a long time and perseverance to arrive at this place. And I hope you'll remember that if I've learned some lessons you're still being taught, that we both stand on equal footing, as humans, far, far below what Jesus Christ is. Both you and I still have character which is closer to "chief of sinners" than to the Chief Shepherd.

    Stay with it! He knows where He's taking you, even if you don't.

  8. Thanks for sharing your heart, open and honestly sis.

  9. Denise ~

    I don't feel good or proud about these words. I'm praying that by posting them I might encourage others.

  10. That's a great distinction. I love how you stated this, Anne. Thanks.

  11. Jason ~

    Thanks. I think most of our struggles are about 99% perspective. Maybe. Probably.

  12. Thank you for explanation. Blessings!


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