Mad at God (4/29/2018)

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Recently I had a conversation with someone who is going through some very difficult life struggles. The conversation started with me asking, “How are you doing?” She started talking about the stress on her and her family. After a few minutes, she said, “Sometimes I get mad at God because of what’s happening.” Before I could say anything, she immediately said, “That’s when I feel his presence the most.”

This brings us to an important question. Is it OK to be mad at God? That’s a theological question many people ask. If we think about it, we realize this question doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. There’s a better question to ask. Instead of asking, “Is it OK to be angry with God?” the better question is, “Why am I angry with God?”

The answer is usually very simple. Merriam Webster defines “anger” as “an intense emotional state induced by displeasure.” We get angry with God because we’re displeased life isn’t going our way. We blame him for what’s happening. He should have done something to prevent our pain.

A family member or close friend dies. The love and joy that person brought us is now filled with loneliness and regrets. Go, how dare you do this to me. Perhaps the anger is because some tragedy or great difficulty came our way. Things have radically changed. We’re struggling to let go of the comfortable routine we had and find a new “normal.” If we think about it, the main reasons we get mad at God are usually because either death or tragedy comes our way.

But as we’ve discovered over the past two weeks, God doesn’t look at death or tragedy the same way we do. If we know Jesus, our physical death isn’t the end. The soul just leaves the body to spend eternity in the presence of Jesus. God doesn’t like the tragedies in our lives any more than we do. He will, however, take them and use them to make us more like Jesus. If we understood this and were able to apply it to our lives every day, we’d never be mad at God in the first place.

Sometimes the pain and loss is so great that we need time to work through our emotions and get to a point where we trust God again. Until that time, we’re like David at the beginning of Psalm 22. He wrote, “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.”

We can hear the pain and hurt through the words he uses. God, why are you so far away from me? Why are you ignoring me? Why are you letting me suffer like this? It’s not too much of a stretch to assume there was some anger mixed in with his pain.

But David didn’t allow himself to wallow in self-pity and sorrow. He looked up to the heavens and remembered what God had done in the past. He continued writing,

“3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

David realized God’s people had faced adversity and pain in the past but God stood with them. Eventually he delivered them from it. When we’re suffering, we need to remember how many blessings God has given us in the past. This gives us hope for the future.

The next 19 verses of this psalm are a series of David crying out to God and then remembering what God is really like. Then he ends with these words:

“25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!”

God shouldn’t be defined by the unfair circumstances that fall upon us. God should be known for his love, faithfulness and blessings. We must also quit looking down at our problems and look up. Our difficulties are temporary. God’s kingdom is eternal.

Some of you are dealing with gut-wrenching pain. Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of a spouse, child or friend. Even though they passed years ago, the pain is still raw. It’s possible you have been deeply hurt by other people. You feel your soul was ripped out by what they did to you. Perhaps you’re fighting a chronic disease. You can’t help but ask God why you have it and other people are healthy. For some of you, life has been unfair in many ways. You’re still mourning all of the losses you’ve endured. Because of these things, some of you are angry at God.

He knows this. And he wants to heal the hurt you carry inside of you. However, before God can heal you, there are some things you need to do.

The first one is: Be honest with God – and yourself – about how you feel. God already knows how you feel. And he understands. The gospel of Mark says that as Jesus was suffering on the cross, he “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34). Jesus knows what it’s like to feel that God is far away when you’re suffering.

The second thing you need to do is: Ask God to heal your hurt and strengthen you through the healing power of Jesus Christ. We’re not talking about working yourself into a frenzy and convincing yourself that you’ve moved past it. This isn’t thinking you need to just bury it deep down inside. It will only resurface later. This is about the supernatural, healing power of Jesus Christ working in you to free you from the emotional and spiritual pain you’re carrying. He said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” When the healing power of Jesus gives you the strength you need to move forward, the anger goes away.

The last thing is: Ask others to pray for you. If you’re angry with God, it’s very possible you’ve drifted in your walk with him. You aren’t as close to him as you should be. The further we get from God, the more sin creeps into our lives. James 5:16 tells us, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Sin separates us from God. One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to get Christians isolated from one another because that makes us weaker in our faith and more vulnerable to his attacks. Find someone you trust, share your situation with them, repent and ask them to pray for you.

Now please find a quiet place where you can be alone with God. Start out by listening to some worship music or reading the Bible. Then come to the Lord in prayer. Repent of any sin you have in your life. Ask him to show you any hurts you’ve buried deep down inside and haven’t dealt with. Now ask him to heal you and fill you with the loving power of Jesus Christ.

Remember that emotional pain and hurts are like a cancerous mass inside of you. If you allow Jesus to cut it out of you, the immediate pain might be great but you can start the healing process. Leaving it inside of you means you won’t have to experience the pain of surgery now but….the mass will keep growing.

Jesus wants to heal us. If we submit ourselves to God, if we remember all of the blessings he’s given us in the past and if we let him heal our hurts, we’ll walk with God. Then we won’t be mad at him.