If you’ve ever been in any type of relationship (family, friend, significant other, etc.), then you know that it’s not always smooth sailing. You’re bound to get upset with the other person sooner or later, and probably sooner rather than later.
Conflict is just part of life.
But what happens when you’re mad at the God of the universe? Is that possible? Is that ok? And the answer is…absolutely.
I went through a tough season a few years ago, and the students on campus have heard me give my testimony about my battles with depression and Jesus. I learned a lot during that time, the most important being that I’m a beloved daughter of the one true King.
But it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fast. When it comes to issues of the heart, God doesn’t believe in quick fixes. Because as a great philosopher once said, “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes” (thanks, Taylor Swift).
Here are a few things I learned from that tough season that I hope will help you navigate yours.
Wrestle with Him.
BRING. IT. This is what God is telling you if you’re mad at Him. He can handle your anger, and He is more than up for the challenge. He hates that you’re hurting, but He longs to be in relationship with you. He longs to draw you into Himself, and this will be the perfect opportunity.
And honestly, if you’re really mad at God, it’s going to be hard to deal with anything else until you get past the initial anger and can move on to the deeper issues. You just have to duke it out sometimes.
It’s also biblical, if that helps! Present your case before God. Job did. Job is famously quoted for saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
But there are forty one more chapters! Job is more than a little peeved with God, and he does not hold back his anger from the Almighty. He presents his case as an innocent man who has served the Lord. Job puts God on trial. Bold move, Job. You should go read the book of Job from start to finish. Seriously.
And then there’s always the story of Jacob. On the night before Jacob sees his brother, Esau, Jacob is not doing so well. He’s afraid his brother is going to kill him. Literally. A word to the wise, don’t dupe your sibling into giving away their inheritance when they’re hangry. Oh, and you probably don’t want to pretend to be your sibling so you can dupe your elderly, blind dad into giving you something that rightfully belongs to your sibling.
Jacob did both of these things to Esau. So on the eve when Jacob is about to confront his brother, Jacob has an odd encounter. “Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (Genesis 32:24). Jacob was incredibly strong and was winning this battle. It’s only when the man put Jacob’s hip out of joint that the man stood a chance against Jacob. We come to find out that the man Jacob is wrestling against is actually God.
Jacob wrestles with God, is blessed by God, and he receives a new name – “Israel.” But that’s not it. Jacob also walks away with a limp. The pastor at my church referenced this story and said something along the lines of, “Because that’s what happens when you wrestle the Almighty. You don’t walk away with a puffed out chest, feeling arrogant, prideful and accomplished. No, you walk away with a limp, thanking God you’ve lived to see another day.”
And that’s exactly what Jacob said. In Genesis 32:30 Jacob names the place where he wrestled God Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
So don’t be bashful with God. Bring your anger. Bring your case and present it before the Lord. Come out with guns blazing. But be prepared to come out with a limp. I sure did. But more importantly, I encountered God, I was blessed, and I was given a new name.
Bring your questions.
If God can handle your anger, He can most certainly handle your questions. He welcomes your questions. He probably won’t answer all of them, but He will give you what you need to continue in relationship with Him. And in your questioning, search for Him and wait patiently for Him.
I promise you will find Him, but it may take some time. “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18). And in Jeremiah, it states, “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…” (Jeremiah 29:12-14).
Get to know Him.
How do you search for God with your whole heart? Through Scripture. It’s our direct line of communication to Him. It ain’t called the Living Word for nothing, kids. Prayer is also key… and probably a good counselor (take all my money).
I think underlying all of our anger and all of our questions towards God are two basic questions:
- Can I trust you?
- Are you truly good?
Because if you can’t trust God, and if you don’t know if He’s fully good, then how can you move forward with Him? That’s when you have to get to know Him, and He would be delighted to show you who He really is.
So where do you start? I personally go straight to the Gospels when I’m going through a tough time. In the last few years, my favorite book has become the book of John. I think it would be a great starting place if you’re trying to figure out Jesus, who He is, and what He’s all about. I think the Chronicles of Narnia say it well:
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion…”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe