43. Can We Be Angry With God?

by Jan 15, 20242024

Amazingly, we have been given the freedom to do or think just about anything we want. So, yes, we can respond to this question in the affirmative. But perhaps the better question to ask is, “Is it appropriate to be angry with God?”

Anger is an emotion Scripture recognizes and for which it provides great context. In Ephesians 4:26, we are told to be angry but sin not, or from another translation, “In your anger do not sin” (NIV). Anger is valid and permissible, as are all our feelings, but when it’s applied to someone or something unjustly, it becomes something entirely different.

Direction Matters

Unjust, or misapplied anger, could be identified as the sin to which Scripture is pointing. To experience disappointment about an outcome in life is a normal – even healthy – response. It is when we begin to erroneously blame someone or something that we can get into trouble. Rather than choosing to remain in a place of feeling anger toward God, it helps to also ask ourselves “Why am I angry with the Creator of the universe, Who made a beautiful and perfect heaven and earth?”

Granted, it is no longer a place of perfection, and in Scripture’s account of the Creation story it is very clear why this is, and what the consequences have been. As the Creator of all things, God made the rules, set principles in place, and gave man freedom to choose. Romans 5:12 tells us “just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and (spiritual) death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (NIV). Because of sin we now all experience a taste of this brokenness, some due to our own choices and some as a result of what others have done. And yes, such brokenness often stirs in us an angry response. But is God the just recipient of our anger?

Recognizing Who Is In Control

God is sovereign and though we may try, we cannot control the circumstances of our lives. In fact, we can barely control our own responses and reactions! We certainly are not capable of escaping generations of disobedience to God’s laws and men’s selfish pursuits of power,  pleasure, comfort, and convenience. In our lives, we will all face our share of tribulation, heartache, tragedy, early deaths, sickness, and adversity. We can’t prevent what God has chosen to allow in the world’s current condition.

Yet as believers in Christ, we are not without hope! Just three chapters later in Romans, Paul declares, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (8:28, NIV). No, we don’t get to choose all that happens to us, but we do get to choose how we will respond to what happens to us.

Navigating Our Anger

And Scripture is far from silent on providing instruction on how to respond to that which can cause anger. James writes to not be surprised at the fiery trials we face. And throughout Scripture we are told that this present life consists of hardships and suffering, and all of it alongside the joys and fulfilling parts of life. More than just giving us a “heads up”, Scripture also tells us God’s response toward us in our difficulties. Psalm 34:18 (NIV) tells us “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 2 Corinthians 1:4a (NIV) also promises that God is “who comforts us in all our troubles.” And His comfort and help are not only for this life! 2 Corinthians also reminds us that our troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all (4:17, NIV). In fact, in light of eternity, this passage even describes our afflictions as “light and momentary”! Friends, as believers, this world, and our life in it, is not the final story. We have a future in heaven where there will be no more sorrow or suffering!

Considering these precious promises, how can we justify being angry with God? Though our days here may feel long, and be incredibly hard, in light of eternity, our years here are few. And when they end, we have a heavenly Kingdom awaiting us.

The Better Question

I believe the best question to ask ourselves is, “Can I trust God in and through the circumstances about which I am angry?” When we choose to say, “yes”, in response to what we read and learn in Scripture, we are then able to experientially know the effect of His promises amid our life’s most difficult circumstances. It is this surrender that allows us to let go of anger toward God (and others) and worship Him as our Sovereign Lord. Rather than blaming, we will be able to praise the One Who gave His own perfect Son to die on a cross, so the penalty our own sin (and the sin of the whole world) would be paid. Rather than hopelessness, we will receive the hope of heaven, now available to us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In this newfound understanding, we will be able to recognize that no matter how hard the circumstances of our life are or may become, it is His kindness that is our joy. As Lamentations 3:22-23 assures us, “his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (NIV).

Friend, do you wish to be free from anger you may be carrying against God? Let today be the day you choose to trust Him and His Word and experience His love and nearness.