Later I learned in one of the sessions, a little of what was “underneath” the persona he presented when he proclaimed out loud, “I’m Angry with God”! As my ears were pricked by that singular phrase, I thought “okay, he’s struggling with grief”. I began to pray and ask God for strength, understanding, and forgiveness for him. I had to do this: I’ve been angry with God.
Later in the training, The Lord gave us an opportunity to talk further after he mentioned a second time “that God and he are not on good terms”. I began to share with him that that I know what it feels like to be angry with someone that you really love because of expectations based on relationship. Isn’t that why we get angry with others? As I listened to his statements of “how can God let that happen?”, and “I’ve seen too much”, I realized, I too have struggled with an overwhelming sense of disappointment when God did not stop something bad from happening to me; when I lost something important; or when I experienced the death of a loved one.
Grieving can sometimes disguise the disappointment and bewilderment with anger or angry feelings. Anger gives us power; it certainly is more expressive than the grieving stage of depression, but it is an important stage in the process of recovery. I have learned that much of the anger is tied to this “expectation of God” to do something for us, to stop the pain of someone, or the heartfelt disappointment of losing a job. “Why God” may be the most oft spoken question in the human heart. And yet, sometimes, the “whys” are not answered and that can make us angry with God. It begs examination of our inner self to find out what should we do when we are angry with God, ourselves or someone (some are angry with the person who died). Where does that anger come from anyway?
I truly believe that some of the anger may be based on this human condition of needing to be in control of life and everything that is a part of our life. When a loss or a death occurs, we realize life cannot be controlled and that upsets our view of ourselves, others and God. Isn’t this the same sin problem from the beginning of time? We want to be the controllers, though many of us, especially Christians do not want to admit that fact. Many persons subconsciously believe “we are in fact little gods” able to determine the outcomes and consequences of life. If that belief system is too close to self worship, then we believe that we are “inherently good and deserving”; or maybe it’s the old “insurance policy” at work in our belief system. “Serving God is beneficial” – He can do everything we want Him to do it, when we want Him to do it, including never letting us feel pain, sorrow, grief or disappointment. But that is simply not the reason to serve and have a relationship with God or anyone else. None of us would (or should) want a person in our life for just for what that person (let alone God Almighty) can give us. If so, you are probably a very selfish person indeed.
The case can be made, that loss or death teaches us (without asking us if we want the lesson) that not only are we not in control, we can’t control God! God is more than a personal “genie”. Yes, He is ever present, all knowing and all powerful. He knows and sees exactly who we are and all of the actions and events of every human being. The Holy Bible affirms “He is acquainted” with all of our ways (see Psalms 139, The Holy Bible). At the same time, God has given (allowed) humans reason and free will to exercise good or evil. We may not want to accept the truth that in reality, the world we live in is not a “good world” and in fact, it is full of evil and evil people teetering on destruction. You, Reader, can look around every day or listen to the news to confirm that fact. Must I remind readers of the recent tornados, floods and earthquakes that are occurring all over this world? We are obviously not in control and bad things are happening to good and bad people everywhere. Ask those who are wrongly convicted, or have gone through a divorce or a parent that survived a dying child
So the question I and many of us have asked “Why doesn’t God do something about it” may be found in an answer that is the root “heart” problem of our anger: “God, please don’t let anything bad happen to me or my family because we don’t deserve it”. I have gone through many “valley” experiences, and when I pulled the cover off with God’s help of course, I found out I was really angry, because I didn’t feel I deserved it or that I should have to deal with that level of pain or suffering if I know God and He is with me. Why would He love me and see me suffer so much devastation? As I have grown to discover more and more, that my pain is important to God but it is not unique to the human experience that includes, sometimes death, loss, broken relationships, health issues, or disaster of any sort. We live in a sinful world and some things happen to us or the people we love because we live in a sin-filled world.
But there is a way out of the anger stage and a text of scripture is worth the stating here for study. “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end”, Ecclesiastes 3:1, New Living Translation). “We cannot see the scope of God’s work” – we can’t see or understand all of the questions we may have in our life. God is at work, whether we understand what He is doing by His intervention or what we consider is a lack of intervention by God. We cannot fathom or control the vast wisdom of an infinite God with our limited minds. God is the beginning and the end and He is in control of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We must go to Him in faith and ask Him to calm our mind, give us understanding and comfort our hearts as we process our grief and grasp the wisdom and even the good that can come out of what we have called “a bad thing”. I have seen greater visions of God in the excruciating tests of losses. God has worked more miracles in my life because of my great need for His abiding presence to keep my mind, soul and very being in my grief.
God has also designed that humankind would choose His plan to escape the long-lasting effects of living in a sin-filled world by accepting His Son Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life by taking the sins of the world upon Himself. All who believe that Jesus’ rescues us from the evil of this world by His death and resurrection will, ultimately, have eternal victory over “bad stuff”. The Holy scriptures declare that Jesus Christ, the Son of God has gotten the “victory” over the power of a sinful world, including the power of death. If anyone believes on Him and receive His gift of salvation, he or she can be saved forever (eternity) from the finality of death’s power: “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Corinthians 15:57 (read entire 15th chapter).Through accepting Jesus Christ as the Savior, even the “the power of the bad stuff” is diminished: “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith” 1 John 5:4. With Jesus, we do “overcome”.
As for the young man who said he was angry with God, I believe he is on a journey of grief that will bring Him to a loving Heavenly Father who is certainly not angry with him. I reminded him to pray and it is my prayer that he begins to talk to God about his anger. Many of us may be like him on our grief journey, but please don’t stay there. God will help you process the many deep things in your heart so you can move from the anger stage of grief to knowing that God may not stop the loss from coming into our lives, but He will provide the comfort and understanding you need to get through it. God is Our Heavenly Father.