Can I Tell God I’m Angry?

Crying person prayingQuestion

I have heard it is wrong to be angry at God.  Does that mean I should never tell Him how I feel?

Answer

Some of God’s greatest servants regularly cried out to God.  Emotional authenticity is a mark of spiritual maturity.

Consider the OT Prophets

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  His book Lamentations contains these words:

My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

We sometimes forget that, in this case, the path to Jeremiah’s understanding and rejoicing in God’s compassion and faithfulness included him honestly expressing his emotions to His God.

The same is true of the prophet Habakkuk.  In the first chapter of his book, he brought his questions (respectful complaints?) to the very throne of God.  Far from being chided or condemned, God interacted with his servant in a way that increased the understanding of God’s people both then and now.

Consider the Psalms

These marvelous chapters are often filled with sorrow and lament as David and other writers cry out to the Lord.  One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Psalm 61:1-2 :

Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 73 is another tremendous example of a man who honestly poured out his heart to the Lord.  If you have not visited that chapter recently, I would encourage you to do so, and to read it slowly and carefully.  The solutions to his questions are eventually found, but only after he came honestly before the Lord and poured out his heart.

As commentators Barker and Bailey observed, God is the friend of the honest doubter who dares to talk to God rather than about him. Prayer that includes an element of questioning God may be a means of increasing one’s faith. Expressing doubts and crying out about unfair situations in the universe show one’s trust in God and one’s confidence that God should and does have an answer to humanity’s insoluble problems. [Kenneth L. Barker and Waylon Bailey, The New American Commentary, vol. 20 (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 277-78.]

Consider Our Savior

The ultimate example of this principle is the tender interaction between our Redeemer and the Heavenly Father in the garden just prior to Christ dying on the cross for our sins.  Luke 22:42 – “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

So the next time you find yourself in a season of suffering–great or small, do not ignore your emotions as if God does not care about how you feel.  Be like the OT prophets.  Be like the psalmists.  Be like our Savior.  “Casting all your care upon Him, knowing the He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Steve ViarsSteve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
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