This post has been a long time in coming. Years. It’ll probably stretch into a series.
The thing is, I’m mad at God.
My anger towards God has not been easy for me to admit, especially in a public forum like this. The truth is, I’m nervous about how it might come across. I don’t want to surprise or disappoint my friends and family. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about the God that I love. I don’t want to lead anyone astray.
But I am mad. And not just a little mad. Not like a kid pouting in the corner over not being able to have a piece of candy. It’s more like a person who feels like they have been betrayed by a spouse. Or like a person who believes that they have been wounded by their best friend. Or like a person who just found out that their understanding of what life is about is not accurate and now everything has been turned on its head. It’s a deep-seated kind of anger. The kind that simmers for a long time and starts to boil over. It’s real anger, and that scares me a little bit.
I haven’t often heard about that kind of anger in church on Sunday morning, not that that is an indictment of our church. Or any church, for that matter. It’s probably a good thing. I just haven’t often heard about that kind of anger towards God coming from those that love Him. I often hear about it from those who don’t love Him. I guess there’s no surprise there. But only rarely have I heard someone who claims to love God with all their heart admit that they are really and truly mad at Him. But sure enough, that is exactly how I feel.
I’m sure I’m not the only one. I would guess that there are many conversations of this kind being had. At breakfast tables. In bed before going to sleep. Over coffee or while hiking. But few that I’ve heard. It just doesn’t seem that common for people who have chosen to give their lives to a “Heavenly Father” to express that they are mad at Him.
What would that even look like?
“How are you today?”
“Oh you know. Mad at God. Like really mad. Just like I was yesterday and the day before. For the last couple years, actually. You?”
It’s weird to even think about it like that! Because this is a Person I’m talking about. I’m not saying that I’m mad at some nebulous or impersonal force such as fate or karma. I believe in a personal God. My God. My creator. The creator of all things. The sovereign ruler of all the universe. A God who hears us, loves us, interacts with us. A Living God. And it is this Person of whom I speak. I am mad at God.
To those who love and worship Him, myself included, this probably sounds harsh. Maybe even awful. Some may consider it blasphemy. I hope not. I am riddled with guilt to even admit it, but if I am going to be totally honest and transparent I have to admit that it is true. I have known it to be true for a long time. I’m pretty sure that it has been true even longer than I’ve been consciously aware of it.
For those who may fear where this is going, I want to be clear. I am not walking away from God. I am pressing in. I intend to work through this with my God and with the help of the community that I am surrounded by. This post is an attempt to express a journey that I have already been on, not just to express how I feel “in the moment”. I don’t spend all day every day being nothing but mad at God. I am thankful in so many ways, for so many things. I enjoy His presence, and I lean on His promises. I read His Word, almost daily. He is still my best friend. But this journey has not been an easy one.
And I’m ready to admit that. Publicly. Isn’t that how many recovery programs begin? Admission? So what does that look like for me?
I admit that God isn’t who I thought he was. I admit that living a Christian life isn’t what I thought it was going to be. I admit that I don’t understand the ways of God, and if I may be so bold, that I don’t always agree with them. And yes, I admit that I’m angry. Genuinely angry.
That is a deeply involved question. A complicated question. It involves pain. Anguish of body, mind, and soul. Searching. Disillusionment. Long days. Sleepless nights. Questioning and doubt. Addiction. Alcoholism. Struggle. Suffering: both my own and that of those whom I love dearly.
I won’t try to tackle everything in this one post, but I will give a glimpse at the heart of the matter. Back in 2010, my son Hudson was born. His life has been unique and filled with difficulty from before he was ever born.
At four weeks a doctor sat us down and told us he wasn’t going to make it, which thankfully turned out to be untrue. We were told he may never walk or talk. We were told that we may never really know why. Hudson has been diagnosed with hypotonia, intellectual disability (though whether or not this is accurate is still in question), ADHD, apraxia of speech, autism, Short QT Syndrome, epilepsy, and a handful of other things along the way.
As you might guess, this has all been very difficult for us. More than I can say. We love Hudson and all our kids. Like most parents, we want our kids to be healthy and happy. For most of Hudson’s life, however, he has struggled to be healthy or happy. And it is heartbreaking.
As we have fought for his life, his health, his happiness, and our own, it has brought about many questions. Why has God allowed this? Why hasn’t he healed Hudson? Why do we pray, day and night, only to continue to struggle every hour of every day?
I don’t know.
And many of the theological answers that have brought me peace in the past have started to, in many ways, leave me confused, disillusioned, questioning, and even angry.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
That’s a good question. Will He find faith on earth? Will He find faith in me?
We pray. And pray. And pray. In Luke 18, Jesus told this parable to show that we should always pray and not give up. But I confess, it is hard to keep praying. It is hard not to give up. Even though God promises to bring about justice, I just don’t see it many days. And would I even want his justice? That is a theological question that has an answer I don’t really like. Or find comfort in.
The thing is, being mad at God hasn’t done me any good. It certainly hasn’t done anyone else any good either. Do I want to pass anger at God on to my wife and kids? Definitely not.
But I see it in Scripture. Job cursed the day of his birth.
“Why is life given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
David cried out to God in misery and anguish.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
Jeremiah confesses his sense of being deceived and neglected.
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
Why did I ever come out of the womb
to see trouble and sorrow
and to end my days in shame?
It is true that in every case, these men then gave their full hearts and trust to God. But they grieved. They feared. They doubted. They spent sleepless nights in anguished toil and ardent wrestling with Him. As did Jesus.
…[Jesus] began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death… My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”
But it was not taken from Him. Jesus drank the cup. Jesus suffered to the point of death. And I know full well that I should be encouraged by that. By His life and death, I have life.
But there is another implication in these writings. Sometimes we don’t get the answers we want. Sometimes we pray and pray and pray, but God says “no”. We don’t like to consider that fact, but it is true enough. If you are a Christian, you probably know it to be true. Sometimes, we endure suffering and hardship and pain and our struggle is not taken away from us during our life on Earth.
Suffering is not specific to us. It isn’t personal. It doesn’t distinguish between any time or age. It doesn’t choose one over another. On a long enough timeline, we all suffer. We all lose. We all get sick. We get separated and lonely. We realize that some dreams really don’t come true. We see all of the effects of death and decay. And we realize that no one is immune.
What am I supposed to do with these thoughts?
I genuinely don’t know.
But I take comfort in the words of scripture that show that God is not afraid of the anguished cries of His children. He is bigger than my pain and doubt. He can handle my anger. I take comfort in knowing that even out of despair and sadness God can bring about something good. I believe that. I have to believe that.
Does God answer prayer? Yes. Certainly He does. Sometimes. Though definitely not always the way that I would want Him to.
Does He comfort us in our suffering? He absolutely does. I would not be here if He didn’t.
But am I angry? Yes. Am I sad? Yes. Am I struggling? Every single day.
I started this blog to try to hash out these thoughts and more. This anger, fear, doubt, and despair that I feel won’t be the final chapter. They can’t be. There must be more. There must!
I just needed to get it out. Even if no one reads it. I had to at least communicate the dark thoughts that have crept in. And, I hope that as I continue to wrestle with God, that He will bring light. He has done it before. I know He will do it again.