I knelt down next to my bed, ten years old, and once more poured out my heart to God. “God, please heal me! You know how much I hate having polio, I hate limping, I hate going to physical therapy every week, I hate the surgeries, I hate the way people stare at me because of how I walk. I hate that no one could love me with polio. I hate this, God! I know You can take it away—please let me wake up tomorrow morning all healed and restored!” Once again, I fell asleep, hopeful that God had heard me and He was able to snap His fingers or wiggle His nose or however He did miracles. And in the morning, once again, I discovered that during the night God had done absolutely nothing.
And I was FURIOUS!
“You’re God! This is an easy one for You! What’s wrong with You that You won’t do something so easy as healing me???” Then, my little ten-year-old heart gasped, “I’m mad at God! People aren’t supposed to get mad at God!” And I gathered up my explosive anger and stuffed it into the emotional basement of my heart, along with all the other times I had begged God to heal me . . . and His silent inactivity kept saying no.
Once I trusted Christ as a college student, a wise woman saw my heart full of anger, bitterness and resentment, and prayed that God would show me my heart, knowing that my anger at God was a far bigger problem than legs that don’t work right. Remembering this ten-year-old memory, and the awareness there were a lot more just like it, was an answer to her prayer.
So I prayed, “God, I don’t have a clue what to do. My heart is full of anger, bitterness and resentment. I am angry at You, Lord, because You won’t give me what I want. I’ve never heard a message on ‘What to do when you’re so mad at God you want to spit in His face.’ Please show me what to do about it.”
God understands why we get angry at Him, just as a parent, possessing adult perspective, understands why a child gets angry at her. That adult understanding allows the parent to experience—and to show—grace toward a child tormented by angry confusion and a juvenile sense of entitlement to what he or she wants. Just as a child can’t possibly see the big picture, much less a parent’s motive and intention, that’s why we get mad at God.
It’s about what we can’t see. And God understands.
He knows we cannot see anything but the pain and frustration of the moment. We can’t see the reason(s) God is allowing us to suffer. We can’t see the greater evil that a loving heavenly Father is preventing us from experiencing through the lesser evil of pain in that moment. Or season. We can’t know what’s going on the spirit realm, just as Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 23) saw the angel of the Lord blocking their path with a sword but Balaam didn’t, and he unrighteously punished the donkey.
We can’t see the eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17) and beauty that God is creating in our souls through our pain and suffering, and He usually doesn’t tell us. But He did tell my friend Ann. In prayer one day she had a body memory of being sexually assaulted by a man who had paid her father for the right to have access to his little girl. She asked Jesus about what felt like a heavy blanket over her during the abuse. He gave her a mental picture of Himself lying protectively on top of her, taking into Himself much of the violence of the assault. Ann saw that before the man could even touch her, he had to go through Jesus as her shield, protecting her from the worst of the assault. In answer to her heart’s cry of “Why?”, the Lord told her, “You are My precious gem. My Father’s hand is on the chisel, creating unimaginable beauty in you. He has used every assault on you to create yet another facet of a brilliant jewel. I promise, when you see yourself in heaven, you will say, ‘It was totally worth it.'”
Now, I do realize that many people would gladly choose a less highly polished gem over the pain of abuse and suffering, but this was deeply encouraging to my wise and mature friend. I have watched God use her in mighty ways to minister hope and comfort to others in pain because of her willingness to relinquish her anger at what happened to her and trust God to bring good out of evil, to work all things together for good in her life (Rom. 8:28).
When I prayed, “God please show me what to do about my anger,” He answered by teaching me about His sovereignty. I learned that a good and loving God is always in control, and nothing can touch me without His express permission. His perfect love and purpose for me—and His kingdom—is a shield around me (Ps. 28:7). By the time anything reaches me, whether it is a polio virus that crippled me for life or the disappointment of living in a fallen world, it has His fingerprints all over it. He taught me that all the available facts are not all the facts. He taught me that I can only see a tiny sliver of the whole picture that He sees, and I need to trust His goodness with what I don’t see.
There’s more to the story, but you can read that here.
What do we do when we’re so mad at God we want to spit in His face? Repent of the wrong belief that we see the whole picture, and choose to trust the God who sees everything and has a purpose in it.
This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/mad_at_god on August 14, 2013.