Over lunch a while back, a friend asked if I was angry at God. Close loved ones are going through trials that, while not immediately life threatening, are a mixture of exhausting, overwhelming, and stressful. These things are not happening directly to me, but they are directly affecting me in ways that bear some of the same results.
As I told my friend, anger isn’t my go-to emotion when I’m confronted with difficult or seemingly unfair situations. When I react negatively, it usually looks more like anxiety or worry.
But whether my response is worry, anger, or something else entirely, one thing is sure: What I think influences how I feel. And when I find myself veering off into the emotional morass of the whys or the what-ifs, what I believe about God is my anchor.
What is true about God doesn’t change according to my circumstances. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
My name is engraved on the palm of His hand. He loves me with an everlasting love. He goes before me and is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. These are truths, not clichés. They are not metaphorically hidden in the pages of scripture. They are spelled out clearly and plainly.
So who am I to think that God’s love ceases to apply to me when something in my life goes wrong? Am I the exception to His promises, His truth, His sovereignty? When trials come, as He explicitly promised they would, does His character bypass me or my loved ones?
These are rhetorical questions, of course, but they are worth considering. Worth answering honestly.
The heart of the matter is this: God is entirely who He says He is all the time, or He isn’t who He says He is at all. It’s that simple, and also that mind-blowing.
This is the essence of faith, I think. Fiercely clinging to the truth about God—to what the Bible says about His character and His ways—no matter what. No matter how I feel. No matter what someone else does or says. No matter what is happening to people I love. No matter how long it takes God to act on their behalf, or mine, if He chooses to act at all.
These are not the words of someone who thinks more highly of herself and her faith than she ought. Trust me—I’ve got my own ugly batch of shortcomings and weaknesses, and there are plenty of times when I feel like I’m one step away from complete disaster.
But God—now He is infinitely faithful and trustworthy. He cannot lie, He cannot fail, He cannot cease to be who He is. I’m holding fast to that, and it is informing how I feel about what is happening around me.
Here’s the thing. When people hurt us or bad things happen and our human minds struggle to reconcile what we’re experiencing or witnessing with what we believe, it’s natural to respond with doubt, fear, anger or disappointment. After a time, though, these attitudes can take up so much room in our minds or appear so insurmountable that we start to imagine even God’s grace can’t overcome them.
Maybe we don’t even want it to, if we get right down to it. Maybe sticking with our doubt, our anger or our fear feels safer and more comfortable than throwing our lot wholeheartedly with the God who has somehow not lived up to our expectations.
But our feelings—about God or our circumstances—don’t change who He is. They don’t negate the work His Son did on the cross for us. They don’t remove us from His family.
As I read through the Bible and write down the names of God, I’m starting to notice how often He is referred to in terms of His protection for us. He’s our rock, the stronghold of our life, our strength, our shield, the mountain where we seek refuge and so on.
It occurs to me that, in addition to all the external enemies God protects us from, He also stands ready to save us from our feelings. The deeply entrenched disillusionment caused by the bad choices of other people. The periods of anger that stem from the circumstances we don’t understand. The forehead-pinching worry about how that next procedure is going to turn out. The fear of what lies ahead that keeps us awake all hours of the night.
All that and more.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of allowing all these feelings—as real and valid as they may be—to control my mind and heart. One by one, day by day, I’m attempting to cast them at the feet of Jesus—the only One who has any power to do anything about them anyway.
So, in answer to my friend’s question, no, I’m not angry at God. But if I ever am, He’ll be the first to know about it.