Is it ok to be angry at God? Or why passionate relationships require passionate emotions

Over the last several weeks a curious question has popped up in conversations following our Sunday worship gatherings: is it okay to be mad at God? These people are hurt and in deep pain, and their question isn’t coming from a place of belligerence nor a place of pride – but from a place of confusion and brokenness. These aren’t people going through the same struggles, but their desire for God in the middle of the pain has led them to the same place.

There are people who you can tell have a hidden agenda or an axe to grind… These people aren’t like that. They are not looking for an excuse to leave their faith behind, to leave God behind in order to indulge in some self-destructive behavior, or to find a reason to run from the Body of Christ. In their eyes is a genuine searching for the right way to navigate the difficult waters of suffering while clinging to their Creator – who they know is in control of all things. I mention this because these people are trying to grow in their relationship to God. They are not closet atheists looking for an emotional, intellectual, or existential hole to jump through to reinforce their desire to run from the Lord…

So to the question, “Is it okay to be angry at God?” The short answer is, “What does the Bible show us and tell us?” If we read the Psalms particularly we will find an entire range of emotions; sadness, loneliness, frustration, joy, triumph, and yes anger. Look for example at Psalm 13 –

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me

How long, how long, how long!? This is a theme that happens again in Psalm 35, and the prophets like Habakkuk, and these are not information-gathering questions like, “Ok God when can we expect you?” but these are questions of angst and hurt and I believe, anger.

This is not the same kind of anger that is mentioned in Matthew 5:21ff when Jesus equates the punishment for anger with that of murder… Because that is the kind of anger that leads to a separation in a relationship – it’s intentional and malicious and sinful. But there is another kind. That’s the kind that actually opens up a dialogue in a relationship, and anyone who has been married knows that sometimes these moments can actually draw two people together rather than drive them apart.

You see, I don’t believe God desires a ho-hum relationship with us. He doesn’t desire a complacent or apathetic connection, which is really no connection at all. But he desires a passionate devotion to him… He desires a love that takes over all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength – and that takes passion, and sometimes that passion can lead to anger. It’s just like the old saying, “The people you love the most, make you the most angry.” I think that an impassioned response to a God that we love, and yet we don’ fully understand can lead us to those kinds of emotions, and if we are faithful to keep seeking him in the middle of that – we will be able to sing the end of Psalm 13 –

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me

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