Summary: We get angry and disappointed with God, failing to see His purpose in life's hurts. We can learn to trust His will.
Have you ever been angry at God? When people ask God to “damn” something, they’re usually making a strong point without breaking dishes. Deep down inside they’re disappointed with God, though their expletive is usually not a prayer at all. It is, however, a way of telling God: “Take back Your world; if this is how it works, I don’t like it at all!” The true blasphemy is in failing to see what’s what. The true ignorance in such a profane and pseudo-prayer is not seeing the world for what it is. And so we end up telling God what to do.
While hiking in the woods, or kayaking down a river, we’re captivated by the beauty of Creation, but in a polluted, crime-infested inner city we’re likely to feel otherwise. The woods were made by God; the city by fallen humanity. Let’s not blame God for human creations. God made Paradise; we made sin. Disillusioned people who give up on God should look inward, and lay the blame on humankind, on our broken human condition, caused by our own rebellion. “We have met the enemy and it is us” (Pogo). This is why there is crime, war, pollution, and prejudice. People do bad things, because they’re rejecting ethical principles of right or wrong…and because they can. On one hand, people don’t want to be treated unfairly; on the other, they wish to live as if there were no moral absolutes. But if life is an accident, then nothing is “unfair.” This is the opening argument of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity: if someone claims there is no “right or wrong”, treat them unfairly, and they’ll complain without a valid argument.
Life hurts…expectations get shattered…dreams remain unfulfilled. We’re not satisfied, and that’s a good thing. Because if we were altogether content, we’d find little need for what God offers. And we would fail to realize we were made for a better world, one that will come when Jesus returns.
We’d like there to be angels that keep us from smashing our thumbs when we get out our hammers. I believe there are guardian angels, but sometimes God has a better idea in mind when he allows us to be hurt. He wants us to grow, and to care for the hurts of others. The Apostle Paul opens his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth by putting pain in perspective; he says, “God comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (II Cor. 1:3).
We live in a broken world, which is hardly God’s fault. The world isn’t how He made it. Paradise was lost by human sin. Adam and Eve wanted to be “like God” so they ate the forbidden fruit. They already were “like God”…after eating, they became less like God, not more. “Adam ate the fruit, and our teeth are still on edge” (Anon). Our world is not the way it’s supposed to be. Our world is fallen.
Nevertheless, we expect divine benevolence to cause things to work better. We want our lives to fit together more neatly. Yet life gets messy and most people we meet have challenges that trouble them deeply. Everyone is struggling with something. Let’s remember that when we’re tempted to curse someone under our breath. The slow clerk behind the coffee shop counter may be going through incredible trials. Before telling God what to do about that clerk, we might ask God for patience and understanding. More people are in pain than we can imagine, and the causes of their pain are also unimaginable. Let’s show some compassion.
We pray, and often the answer is “no.” C.S. Lewis stated, “If God gave me everything I asked for, what a mess my life would be.” We get mad at God when our expectations aren’t met…yet our “lot in life” is largely due to our choices. I’ve gotten angry at God because I felt He hadn’t given me enough wisdom. He gave me enough not to mess up. It would be wise to admit our faults and reflect on our failings. From such consideration we might gain insight.
When we are angry at God, we’re somewhat like children who tell their parents, “You don’t love me!” (knowing that they do)…but it’s a way of hurting them. We lash out with exasperation, yet we should realize that in many ways God has already blessed our lives…but we want more. And so we tell God what to do.
The writer of Psalm 74 is feeling impatient and rejected; and in self-pity he issues God a list of unanswered woes. He tells God what to do; but he finally admits that God is the King over all the earth, the One who gives salvation. Faith is trusting God even when His timing disagrees with ours. As Phillips Brooks admitted, “My problem is that I’m in a hurry but God isn’t.” We wait for what’s worth waiting for. The root of sin may well be impatience with God (Tertullian).