Rev. Joel L. Tolbert
Facebook FAQ - Angry at God
Q: Is it acceptable to be angry at God?
It better be. So many of the Psalms express anger, exasperation, frustration with God. (ie Psalm 44) Moses complained to God about God's inaction, or God's delay to act. (ie the end of Exodus 5) Different leaders, believers, and disciples found themselves at odds with what was happening to them or around them, or resisting what was about to happen, and expressed themselves in anger with God. In faith, scripture often screams at God to do something different, even to undo something that has already happened.
It’s natural for humans to be angry. Humans are made from God‘s own self, and God gets angry. God was angry when some of God's people are enslaved. The prophets express God’s anger and frustration with how humanity is neglecting its relationship with God and our obligations to love and help one another. God was angry with religious and political leaders who failed to teach and practice love, justice, truth, and peace. Many of Jesus‘ words were angry, especially when speaking to the religious and political leaders of his day, or when watching the lack of courage, conviction, or understanding in his disciples (the middle of Matthew 17).
So yes, it’s okay to feel (and be) angry… with God, with others, with leaders, with the way our world seems to be spinning away from God’s beloved garden of abundance instead of closer to it. Anger is a reasonable response to the injustices and atrocities we see and experience, especially if they are done in God's name.
But anger cannot be the point or the end. Unbridled anger can be dangerous. It can blind us or bury us in its tempting gravity of self-righteousness or revenge. It can trick us into severing relationships that need reconciliation or walking away from problems that need healthy solutions.
Good anger forces truth and accountability. Good anger names injustice and doesn't let it go unchallenged. Good anger names sin in the systems and inspires action to cleanse the brokenness so that fewer victims suffer in the future. Those are the same issues that inspire God's anger, and God expects nothing less than anger from us.
Let's be careful not to blame God as the reason for our anger, though. Lies, hate, war, violence, poverty, slavery, racism, cheating, untimely death deserve our anger, but these things are not from God. Be angry, and be angry along with God, not AT God. God is also angry with these sins and evils. Let's not aim our anger at God, as if God is the source of these sins and evil.
Instead, let's share our anger with God. Hear God's sadness and anger at these things with us. Then let's ask God how to respond. If the response we hear is truly from God, the suggestion will likely push us up from the seat of anger back into the world to embody truth, hope, love, accountability, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert