When we are angry with God and resent Him
Anger is a secondary emotion. It comes about as a result of other primary emotions. We can become angry with God because we feel helpless, wronged, or abandoned. Experiences such as painful childhoods, miscarriages, prolonged singleness, or the unexpected death of loved ones can lead us to resent God. We cannot understand why we have to go through such pain and suffering. In our anger, we can unwittingly accuse God as being unfair, uncaring, cruel, and unfaithful.
Such strong emotions are understandable when we are in pain but even in the midst of our distressing bitter or sour emotions, it will be a mistake to remain angry because it does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-20 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Anger in itself is not wrong because it is simply a feeling. But when we allow our anger to fester, we will become blind to our true primary emotions, the lessons we are meant to learn, and God’s ultimate perfect plan. It also leads into bitterness, jealousy, resentment, slander, hatred and all sorts of wickedness. This darkens our hearts and grieves the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30-31 NIV And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
When we allow our anger to overcome us, we are also in danger of giving Satan an opportunity to mislead us with lies about God. Rather, it is much better to confess our primary emotions and ask for God’s deliverance and help.
Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
2 Peter 2:19 ESV … For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
God is personally familiar with pain
God created a perfect and pleasant world, where there was originally no evil or sin. Everything was abundant and naturally prospered. It was only after Adam and Eve sinned that evil took over dominion of this world. All sorts of impurity and lawlessness began to multiply; lies, murder, sickness, poverty, selfishness, and so on.
Genesis 1:31 ESV And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
God could have saved himself a lot of trouble by wiping mankind off the face of this earth and starting all over again, but He didn’t. Instead, He chose to be by our side and restore us to purity and innocence. This meant that He chose to suffer for us and alongside us. This is an incredible fact.
Unfortunately, it is not in our nature to automatically submit to God’s authority. We prefer to follow our own limited ways of thinking and ignore the quiet gentle voice of God’s Spirit in our hearts. Such wickedness grieves God.
Genesis 6:5-6 NLT The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
Mark 3:5 ESV And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…
God is always faithful to us even though we are faithless to Him. This is why He has personally intervened throughout human history, in both big and small ways, to call mankind back to Him in repentance. The most notable of these interventions has been sending Jesus, His own Son, to lead us by example and call us all to repent.
2 Timothy 2:13 ESV If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
Matthew 4:17 ESV From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Even as we are angry with God for allowing us to suffer, we need to remember that when Jesus was on earth:
- He was born into squalid conditions – Jesus was born in an open box in a stable used for animals. | Luke 2:7 ESV And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
- His birth was considered illegitimate – Jesus was judged for being an “illegitimate” child. | John 8:41 NLT No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”
- He was not respected – Jesus grew up in a town of ill repute that other people were prejudiced against. | John 1:46 ESV Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
- He wasn’t handsome – Jesus had a very ordinary appearance that would not draw attention. | Isaiah 53:2 ESV For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
- He experienced rejection even by those closest to Him– His own siblings did not take Him seriously. | John 7:5 ESV For not even his brothers believed in him.
- His earthly parents didn’t understand Him – His parents did not know what to make of him at times. | Luke 2:49-50 NLT His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.
- He had His prayer requests denied – Jesus’ request to be saved from crucifixion was denied. | Luke 22:41-42 ESV And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
- He was abandoned by the friends He loved best – He was abandoned by His closest circle. | Matthew 26:31 NLT On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
- He was unfairly accused – Jesus was falsely accused of many wrongdoings even though He was fully innocent. | Matthew 27:12-14 ESV But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
- He was publicly humiliated – Jesus was crucified. In those times, only the lowest criminals were crucified, often naked and fully exposed before their witnesses. | Acts 5:30 NIV The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead–whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.
- He experienced verbal and physical abuse – Jesus was taken by the Roman soldiers to their headquarters to be openly mocked, scorned, and beaten. | Matthew 27:27-31 NLT Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
- He was brutally beaten – Jesus was flogged with a lead-tipped whip. | Matthew 27:26 NLT So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
- He was single throughout His life – Jesus never married. Before He died, Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to His disciple, not his wife or children. | John 19:26-27 NLT When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
- He lost a beloved child, and chose not to intervene even though He had the power to do so – God watched as the human beings that He created brutalised and killed His beloved Son. | 1 John 4:10 NLT This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
We cannot accuse God of not understanding our pain. He is not a God who is out of touch with suffering and heartache. In fact, we worship a God who is “familiar with pain”. Jesus Himself is described as a “man of suffering.”
Isaiah 53:3-4 NIV He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
There were probably times that Jesus felt helpless, wronged, and abandoned. As a human being who experienced all our emotions and weaknesses, He was likely to have been tempted to become angry with His Heavenly Father. When Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was crying out in His full humanity.
Mark 15:34 ESV And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
He would have also experienced similar thoughts as us, such as:
- “Why aren’t You protecting me?”
- “Where are You?”
- “Why am I still waiting for Your salvation from this?”
- “Why are You so hard on me?”
- “Why do You bless others but not me?”
- “This is more pain than I can bear!”
- “Why don’t You answer me?”
- “Why don’t You punish these wicked people now?”
- “Why don’t You give me what I want? It can’t be too much to ask.”
- “Don’t You care about me?”
- “Why do things have to be this way?”
Suffering is an opportunity
When we suffer, we can feel as if the world is falling apart and God doesn’t care. But Jesus tells us that we can take heart when we encounter trouble in this world. He promises that He will turn our trials into victory. But in the meantime, He may want us to learn important lessons.
John 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Specifically, the Bible shows us that we need to learn to overcome just as Christ overcame. Because our lives are hidden with Christ, He gives us the power to overcome the following:
- Worldly lies and temptations: The world will tempt us to believe that we have to be the ones who strive to fix our problems with earthly solutions. But when we look at Scripture, we see that Jesus chose to trust the Father, and that’s something that we can do. One way to overcome in our season of suffering is to seek His face and wait for His answers even as scary as it feels. When we seek Him, He will show us the way out.| 1 John 5:4-5 ESV For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
- The evil that people do to us: We need to learn to overcome our resentment and bitterness toward the evil that has been done to us. This may mean crying with God until we are able to forgive and bless those who have treated us badly. | Romans 12:14,21 ESV Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- False teachers and false prophets who teach us lies: We need to be on guard against false teachers and false prophets. Suffering can help us grow in the process of discernment. | 1 John 4:3-4 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
- Satan’s schemes: We can be tempted to see only the evil in our situation. But God is always at work, and He has already overcome Satan and his schemes. Our challenge is to learn to see that God is present and active even when everything seems bleak. | 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Also, see Who is Satan.
Jesus was exalted to the highest place in heaven because He overcame death on the cross. God made us the incredible promise that we will have a seat with Jesus in heaven if we also follow His example and learn to overcome our trials. Thankfully, our pain will not last forever. Moreover, God will not allow us to be tested and tempted beyond what we can bear. God puts limits on our sufferings, and He will always answer us when we call on Him. Also, see Temptations serve a purpose.
Philippians 2:8-11 ESV And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Ephesians 2:6 NLT For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6 NLT And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
We see that God doesn’t build faith, strength, and wisdom into us by shielding us from fiery trials. Rather, we mature as faithful believers when we walk straight through life’s ordeals – with God by our side. If Jesus went through some very painful ordeals, wouldn’t His followers too? Surely, we are not more entitled than God’s own Son.
1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Some reasons why we become angry
The apostle Paul even said that He wanted to suffer with Jesus Christ so as to experience His victorious resurrection to new life. Such a statement would seem preposterous to many Christians today. Why is that?
Philippians 3:10-11 NLT I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
- We have been misled by a false gospel – We were told that if we follow Jesus, He will give us whatever we want as long as we ask and pray in the right way. This encourages a transactional mindset, not a real relationship. We try to “bribe” God with our good deeds and become upset if He doesn’t meet our expectations. | 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NLT But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. Also, see Recognising the “different Jesus” of the prosperity gospel and Jesus did not die for our religion.
- We didn’t think that God would test our faith and love for Him – Love is only truly proven when the other person stays with you through thick and thin, not only when things are good. Hence, our love and devotion to God will be tested. Instead of focusing on passing the test with flying colours, we can make the mistake of resenting and accusing God. | Deuteronomy 13:3 ESV … For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
- We have yet to learn how to recognise and resist the devil’s schemes – Satan is described as a lion waiting to devour anyone who gives him the slightest chance. There will be times we will come under the devil’s attacks simply because we have been making progress in knowing God personally, and especially if we are doing something important for God’s kingdom. In such instances, we should resist Satan and call on God to restore and strengthen us. Let us not fall for the temptation from the devil to get angry with God and accuse Him. Satan would like to see us accuse God of forsaking us.| 1 Peter 5:8-10 ESV Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
- We forget our past sins have consequences – There are times we will suffer as a result of things we have done in the past. Perhaps we now have difficulty conceiving because we have had abortions that affected our childbearing abilities. Or we may have lost our savings because we gave in to greed and did not first ask God how He would like us to use the money He entrusted to us. Perhaps we regret not being able to see someone again because they passed away suddenly, when in the past, we ignored the Holy Spirit’s prompting to care for them while they were still alive. We become angry with God, instead of repenting and asking for His forgiveness. | 2 Peter 3:9 ESV The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
- We are still angry with our earthly fathers – Our hearts can deceive us and blind us to our true inner state When we harbour bitterness towards our earthly parents, for instance, that anger can seep out as anger towards our Heavenly Father, because He is also a Father figure. | Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
- We cherish our idols – When there are things we love more than God, we can get angry when our idols are threatened or taken away from us. We resent God when we lose one of our idols. | 1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry Also, see Testing for idols in our hearts.
- We neglect to renounce the curses we have said over ourselves – We may have inadvertently poisoned our own lives by cursing ourselves in the past, saying things such as “No one will ever love me,” “Dying is better than living,” “I hate myself,” and so on. Such curses will take root in our spirits and bring destruction over time. We become angry with God for something we have done to ourselves. | James 3:8-10 ESV but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Also, see Recognising and breaking word curses.
- We are ignorant of our generational curses – Every family tree has its own generational patterns. A family’s rebellion against God usually leads to a string of misfortunes or brokenness from one generation to the next. Idol worship or witchcraft, for instance, can predispose our family to patterns of adultery, cancer, financial problems, mental illness, broken families etc. Unless we confess and renounce our earthly family’s spiritual lineage in Jesus’ name, we may find our lives heading towards similar generational directions for reasons unperceivable to us. Thankfully, we can seek God’s counsel for and deliverance from the root causes, instead of resenting Him for our misfortunes. | Exodus 20:4-5 ESV “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Also, see Breaking generational curses.
- We feel like we need someone to blame – One way children cope with abusive parents and the fear of more abuse is to place the blame for the things they may violently punish us for on others. When we fail to repent of this bad habit, we will end up blaming God and becoming angry with Him. | 1 John 4:18 NLT Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
- We project our anger – Sometimes we project our anger at what others have done to us at God. Rather than forgiving and blessing them in order to be made right with God and receive His reward and blessing, we become angry and shake our fists at Him for not taking revenge for us. This can stem from a subconscious fear that maybe we are not good enough for God’s love and redemption or a lie that God is not good, faithful, and just. | Luke 6:27-28,35 ESV “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you… and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Also, see Retraining our anger triggers.
Practical steps to take
God allows us to be tested through difficult circumstances because He loves us and wants to sharpen us to become stronger in faith and spiritual maturity. We may feel angry with God and disappointed by what He allows us to experience but we don’t have to stay there. We can tell Him everything on our hearts and ask Him to help us trust in His goodness. God has planned blessings and not curses for us if we walk in His ways. It is by submitting to His will and learning to overcome our anxieties with His help, that we will prosper.
James 1:3-4 ESV For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Psalm 1:1-3 ESV Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
1. Cast our anxious emotions to God
First, we need to cry out all our painful (primary) emotions to Him and ask Him to comfort us. We can tell God exactly how we feel – even the fact that we are angry with Him – and cast our anxieties on to Him. Once we have flushed out our anxious emotions, we will become more sober-minded. This is when we can we take a more objective look at our circumstances and hear from God more clearly.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
2. Humble ourselves to listen to the conviction in our hearts
At this time, we need to be willing to submit to God’s authority and will. There may be times when we will have to face up to our own sins and confess the ways we have contributed to our current circumstances, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Let us acknowledge and repent of our own issues and anxieties that are being misdirected at God. (See examples listed above)
1 John 1:8-10 ESV If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
3. Learn emotional wisdom and self-control
Those who grew up in performance-based cultures or who were told not to cry typically receive little emotional nurturing. We may have learnt to just “push down our feelings and just move on.” As a result, we may have suppressed our emotions and numbed our hearts, resorting to occasional outbursts of anger to release all our pent-up feelings. We may also do the same to God. This is unhealthy. Also, see Retraining our anger triggers and Please vent to God, not to people.
We all need to learn to talk to God about our day-to-day issues and how we have been feeling before they build up to dangerous levels. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, show us the primary emotions we are truly feeling, and ask Him to give us His comfort and healing.
1 Chronicles 28:9 ESV … know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
4. Praise God and overcome evil with good
Praising God gives the control over all our situations back to Him, where it belongs. It helps to dissolve any bitterness that is brewing up and breaks any stranglehold that Satan has gotten over our hearts and minds. We are called to give God thanks in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 ESV Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
Some questions that may be good to ask ourselves are:
- Can we praise God for considering us worthy to have our faith tested? | 1 Peter 4:13 NLT Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
- Can we submit to God’s sovereignty, even if He does not reveal the purpose of our pain at the present time? | 1 Peter 5:6 ESV Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
- Can we praise God for the good He plans to come out of the evil we have suffered? | Genesis 50:20 ESV As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
- Can we choose to bless God and bless others even when we are in pain? | Romans 12:14 ESV Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Hopefully, the answer is yes to all four because these are the marks of mature and faithful believers who will be brought to glory with Him one day. Let us be amongst them.
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