Have you ever been frustrated with God? If your answer is “no” then you either haven’t been a Christian for long, or you are uniquely blessed with a trouble-free life, or you have an unusually mellow attitude…or you’re lying.
(DERU: “The Future Never Comes”)
I’m willing to be one of the honest ones and admit that I have been extremely frustrated with my God on several occasions. I’m not proud of that fact, just being open. And I’ve expressed very loudly the fact that I felt betrayed by God too (“Oh Lord-where are you-have you deserted me?”). I’m in good company, because Jesus Christ did the same thing on the cross.
I’m not foolish enough to encourage you to shout at the Lord God Almighty-the creator and sustainer of the universe-the eternal one who alone is holy, and who could snuff any one of us out with a word if he so chose to. However, I’ve come to learn, the hard way, that God is big enough to take our questions, our fears, our doubts, and yes, our tirades, without reacting in childish rage. God’s ways are not ours, and he does not respond as we might when someone gets in our face. He will not zap us with a lightning bolt from heaven, like some unreasonable, over-sensitive and domineering parent might do if they were able. There are certain religions in our world in which people enact the rage and violence which they believe their god feels and wants to express through them: this is not the God of the Bible.
Even in those early days of the Old Testament, from which some agnostics and atheists draw the claim that the Biblical God is hateful and violent, God was being loving. God’s patience is far beyond ours, yet his judgment does eventually fall on nations which sacrifice their offspring, and which knowingly trample on the institutions designed to protect the family, the children, and the human race.
Several Bible characters and heroes experienced or displayed frustration and even anger directed at God. The first was Cain, who having just murdered his brother, answered God’s attention in a way that a rebellious child might do:
GOD: “Where is your brother Abel?”
CAIN: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
God’s response was not to throw a lightning bolt at Cain, but to promise protection for Cain who would otherwise suffer retribution from other people:
“Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him” (verse 15).
Moses is known for his mighty deeds in Egypt, but also for his fits of anger and frustration. At the burning bush he argued with the Lord who was trying to send him to speak to Pharaoh. Moses refused to verbally confront Pharaoh, so that God did become angry with Moses (Exodus 4:14), but there was no holy indignation and rage. Instead, God agreed to an alternative arrangement, and settled at that:
“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well.”
On another occasion, Moses directly contradicted and mocked God’s tactics:
“Oh Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23).
Jeremiah confronted the Lord with a question that many of us have either expressed or thought:
“You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (Jeremiah 12:1).
The Psalms are rich with such heart-felt expressions. Asaph asked similar questions to that of Jeremiah (see Psalm 73). David, in a version of the “God! Where are you?” question, despaired:
“I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail looking for my God” (Psalm 69:3).
Jonah, angry with God for failing to judge the very city he had been called to preach repentance to, was met with a stiff lesson in motives, but no heavy hand of hatred or vengeance. God caused Jonah’s sun-shade to wilt, which to Jonah was worse than the fact that the city had been given mercy:
“But God said to Jonah, Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do, he said. I am angry enough to die” (Jonah 4:9).
JESUS SHOUTED AT GOD!
The ultimate example of Biblical shouting at God would be when Jesus Christ was on the cross, and, cursed (in our place) and separated from the Father:
“…Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’-which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”
So how should we feel about the times when we are questioning, and even taunting God? Is it alright to be angry with him?;
First and foremost we have to remember that He is the eternal God, the eternal judge, and we are dust and sustained only by his mercy and power. We need to be very careful not to take his mercy and patience for granted. It’s a question of motive and of our overall attitude to our God.
Those who oppose God as a way of life are really asking for big trouble
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker” (Isaiah 45:9).
The nations are going to be judged for their opposition to Him and His people:
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?”…”Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters”….”you will dash them to pieces like pottery” (Psalm 2).
However, God is not insensitive to the emotions and fears and doubts of his people: He is greater even than those. Moses was a righteous man who had bouts of anger and doubt, as was David and Jeramiah and many others, but God did not reject them or punish them, because they were His people, his children, his family. A good father will never reject his children even when they are angry with him at times: God is the perfect Father of those who have chosen to be in His family. If we are God’s children, God has abundant mercy and patience for us.