It is not uncommon to hear someone question God’s actions. Perhaps you have done it too. Probably at some point in our Christian life we have had doubts about the goodness or faithfulness of God and questioned if He really has what is best for us in mind.
Often times these doubts lead to anger against Him because we can’t understand what is happening or why it is happening. In ‘Lord, Heal My Hurts’, Kay Arthur describes it this way. She says you get angry with God “because God did not do what you thought He should or the way He should do it or when He should do it.” In other words, we want what we want when we want it. And when we don’t get it, we get angry with God.
The Bible gives several examples of people who were angry with God. We could look at the story of Cain in Genesis 4. We could look at David’s anger against the Lord when He killed Uzzah for reaching out to steady the ark (1 Chronicles 13). Or we could consider Jonah when God withdrew His wrath from the Ninevites because they repented. There are other examples, but each reveals the same theme: Anger against God is always wrong because it accuses God of evil.
If anger against God is sin, how do we deal with our doubts and questions about His dealings with mankind, particularly in the face of suffering? There is a way. It is the art of lamenting. Consider these biblical examples:
The book of Job opens with a string of catastrophes dumped upon Job. It is impossible to conclude that someone or something other than God is the ultimate cause of these misfortunes. Though, he had some bitter complaints and tough questions, Job never blamed God for his suffering. His questions were never answered, but he remained faithful to God.
Jeremiah, in the book of Lamentations attributes the judgment and devastation to God’s decrees, yet he never denies God’s loyalty or goodness to His people. He does not impugn God’s motives or accuse him of malice or capriciousness. He wrestles, he wonders, and he questions, but ultimately rests in God’s promises of restoration and blessing.
Consider Habakkuk. Shortly before the Babylonian invasion, he had honest complaints. They did not arise from anger against God, but from the conviction that God was a powerful Judge and a loving Savior.
Finally, look at the Psalms, particularly Psalm 13. In this Psalm, David grapples with God’s apparent distance from him in the midst of enemy attacks. He questions the Lord’s seeming neglect and complains about God’s felt absence. But notice that David addresses God directly. And instead of accusing God of wrongdoing, his lament (vv.1-2) leads to petition (vv.3-4), which yields confession of trust (v.5) and commitment to praise (v.6). He resolves to trust in God’ loyal love, salvation and goodness.
These examples of biblical laments provide for us a few common elements
- Suffering – In each of these examles, they were experiencing significant confusion between God’s revealed character and His current dealing. These are examples for us. The Bible gives words to our suffering by recording the words of other sufferers.
- Prayer – Each of these men voiced his questions directly to God. They moved toward Him rather than away from Him. Often we ask questions about God rather than bringing our questions to Him.
- Faith – The laments of these men arose from fundamental faith. When things got tough, they submitted to God and clung to basic truths about His person and work.
- Humility – These men expressed their laments with reverence and submission. They didn’t vent or lose control (which is what is advocated in many philosophies today).
- Renewal – Each of these men reached some resolution of their struggle, a measure of renewal in their faith. The closing sections of Job, Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Psalm 13 all echo a mature faith, tried and tested, sweeter through the hardship.
Perhaps your struggle is causing you to have questions for God. Perhaps you are confused because there is an apparent inconsistency between God’s revealed character and His current dealings in your life. Take your questions to Him. Submit to Him and cling to your faith. Act in reverence and submission. Then, when you write the final portion of your particular struggle, allow it to echo a mature faith, tried and tested, sweeter because of the hardship.
This article was adapted from the book, “Uprooting Anger‘ by Robert D. Jones.
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