Angry at God? Feeling Condemned? What if God Can Handle It?

To be angry with God isn’t okay. Or so I’ve been told throughout my life. We must reverence God, and resign ourselves to His will, and simply accept what He does, without question. Or so they say. And for many years I was afraid to be angry with God. So I wasn’t. Or so I thought…

mad at God

Even so, when people struggled with anger, and expressed it, I said, “God can handle it… He’s not afraid of you, or what you feel.” And I believed it. At least for them. But my real belief was that I had no anger towards Him.

That all crumbled one beautiful summer morning, when all seemed right in the world, except the storm clouds brewing in my heart….

I was in ministry, and we all know people in ministry have it together and always trust God. Except when we don’t. We’re just humans, after all, trying to love God by loving others.

I was in Scarborough for ministry-related purposes when it all came down the pipe. It was a blend of things that collided, leaving me undone. And in that spontaneous moment, anger I didn’t even know was inside me, pushed from a place deep within and I yelled at God. My thoughts  were, If nothing good can come out of the hell I’ve been through, then this is not worth it! That pain was all for nothing! And in that moment I was certain nothing good could or would come out of those years of trauma, and God had let it happen anyway.

It all happened so fast, so spontaneously, that my dignity was the farthest thing from my mind, as a dark reality that had been inside of me for over 30 years spilled out. In a ‘mini-series’ of flashbacks, scenes from childhood flashed at lightning speed through my mind, so that I could not contain it. And, right there, pulled over on a street in Scarborough, I yelled at God.

Of course my windows were down because it was summer, and my A/C wasn’t working. A man stopped and looked at me suspiciously, and I mumbled, “Shuffle along… nothing to see here”. And he did, God bless him. He didn’t wander over and ask if he could take me to the nearest psyche ward. And I sat there, in gut-wrenching sobs, letting that buried hell wash out of me.

At length I was empty of tears, and composed myself to drive home. But my words haunted me. My anger haunted me. What if that was it? What if God was done with me? And where had that anger come from? What if, on my ride home, God would let some semi truck run over me, flatten me out and show me that He is bigger and doesn’t have to take my anger lying down? Crazy thoughts raced through my head…

Fear, so powerful I felt nauseated, washed over me. If only I didn’t have to drive…  But I had to, and I did, my heart numb from pain, fear and grief. As I drove, I tried to talk to God. I tried to say I’m sorry for yelling–because I really was sorry–but everything fell flat. No affirmation from God, no feeling of being forgiven. Only the heavy reality that I had yelled at the Almighty; the One who constructs the Universe with a simple command. I, a minuscule fragment of that Universe, had yelled at the Creator. And the only comfort my heart could find was knowing that God is good, that He loves me and my little meltdown had no power to change that.

I was never more relieved to pull into our driveway. God hadn’t struck me  dead; I was home, safe and sound. Gradually, in resting, the shock of my yelling wore off, and I realized that this anger had burned deep inside for years. I had determined to always reverence God, and never, ever yell at Him or even allow myself to feel angry. Besides, how could I be angry with a God who has given so much? And with the realization that the anger had been there all along, another awareness settled more powerfully: I am His. I am loved. He can handle the truth. And He forgives.

But it wasn’t until I read the story of King David bringing the ark of God to the City of David, where Uzzah drops dead for inadvertently touching the ark, that I discovered the Bible addresses this thing of anger at God.  In 2 Samuel 6:8 (rewritten using the words and meaning of the original text): “And King David burned with anger against God, because of His outburst against Uzzah…”

King David burned with anger against God… Let that sink in for a moment!

We’ve translated it to ‘was displeased’ or ‘was angry’ but the original word וַיִּ֣חַר  means to burn with anger or be kindled with anger. King David was angry with God. Still, God honoured his request to bring the ark to his city; the anger didn’t disqualify him. God didn’t knock him flat. In fact, He called King David a man after His own heart.

In reading Bible stories, and simply in doing life with God, I am convinced that He longs for authentic relationship with us, not performance. He longs for us to trust Him with our pain, our grief, our joy and, yes, even our anger… but not to stay in anger. And, I, for one, need God too desperately to stay angry. While I yelled out of spontaneous desperation, I wouldn’t have if I had not first trusted Him and felt safe. And God, in His kindness, met me there in that grief and loved me.

He has give us permission to call Him ‘Abba Father’; “Daddy”, an endearing term reserved for intimate relationship. And every good parent longs to know their child’s true heart. Even the anger.

And God is a good Daddy…

crying child

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

A Psalm of Trudy… and King David

Is it plagiarism to take a Psalm, written by King David, make it personal and then share the credit with him? That’s what I’m doing today.

King David is one of my favourite Bible characters. I love his passion, his desire for truth, his bold honesty with God. If there is one person who has influenced how I speak to God, how I feel in His presence, it is King David.

It used to end with inspiration, rather than moving to influence. I saw David as a Bible story character. In stories you can do anything you want, right? So for David to talk to God boldly… why not? He’s a bold warrior, not to mention a man after God’s own heart. And men like that, they have special rights.

When I got thinking about it, some years back, I came up with a lot more questions than answers. Why was David a man after God’s own heart? A man of blood. A man of murder. A man of lust. The makings of a pretty corrupt leader, if you stay above the surface. What made the little shepherd-boy-turned-king so special to God?

In my questioning, I turned to God. Who better to ask than the One who declared David to be all that and more? I didn’t get any fast answers and instant deep revelations. Instead, God took me back to the story.

I’ve known the stories of David since childhood, and especially loved the story of beautiful Bathsheba, but felt so bad for Urias. I wanted her to be David’s wife. He was the king, after all. I thought maybe if David had waited, Urias would have died and he could have had her the right way.

As I read the stories again, something stood out. David loved justice. But he was a warrior–a man of blood. He loved women.  A lot of them. And that was pretty messed up in my opinion. I saw my hero differently. Human. And messed up. In these things I didn’t see how he earned the noble title God gave him.

Try telling your friends that you did what David did, choosing any one of his list of sins–or all of them, which could take a while–and see if they pat you on the back and say, “You are such a noble man of God. I think you must be a man after God’s own heart.” It won’t happen. And I’m not saying it should. So what made David a man after God’s own heart?

In Psalms I saw the heart behind the story. A man crying desperately to God, from places too deep for most of us, especially Christians. Because we’ve learned to hide the struggle, and pretend it doesn’t exist. At least too deep to tell honestly, like he did, in a book for people to read for ages to come.

That is why I love Psalms, and why King David is my hero. He was real. Honest. And I think it is one of the reasons he was a man after God’s own heart. But there was more.

David rose early to meditate. He loved to spend time with God and seemed to constantly turn his thoughts and heart towards Him. It’s like he was crazy about Him, and knew how desperately he needed Him. You read nothing of him worrying if he’s good enough, if he’s dressed right–even when he casts his outer clothing aside to praise God in a dance. David knew that he was acceptable to God because of something deeper than personal effort and attaining.

And David repented quickly when he realized he had sinned. He didn’t always see his sin for what it was right away, but as soon as he did, he repented. In one case, when he was caught in sin, he says, “I have sinned against the God of heaven.” He understood that he was accountable to God and ultimately that is whom he sinned against.

He spoke with God from places of joy, and deep depression. And in that place of depression he still declared God to be his salvation, his hope, and the source of joy. He understood that truth is deeper than life experience. When all feels wrong, God is still right, and present.I think he viewed everything as worship and opportunity to praise God. The Psalm I chose to put into my own words, is Psalm 42.

Psalm 42

Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses

Rewritten in my own Words: A Psalm of Trudy and King David

42 Like the deer, panting with thirst, craves for fresh water from a brook,
That is how my soul desires You, O God.
My soul aches to have a relationship with You, my living God, as if with unquenchable thirst.
When will I be with you?
My tears consume me, day and night, so that I can not even eat,
While people continually mock me and say,
“Where is your God?”

When I think about that,
I feel as if my very soul is a puddle on the floor.
I used to go with the crowds;
I went with them to Your house, God,
We were filled with joy and praise,
And celebrated with feasting

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
And why are you unsettled within me?

Hope in God! It’s not over! I will praise Him in spite of all things,
And thank Him for looking on me with kindness, to help me.

O my God, my soul is depressed and hopeless;
That is why I must remember …
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
Your love washes over me in waves and billows
The Lord will extend His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
And I will offer it as a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As if they can snap me like a twig,
My enemies make a mockery of me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you so downcast, O my soul?
And why are you so unsettled within me?
Hope in God;
I will again praise Him,
My God, the one who lifts my countenance, filling me with joy.

© Trudy Metzger

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