The following is an edited excerpt from my new book, How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret.
We sat in the quiet of the church sanctuary, two chairs pulled together, our knees almost touching, listening to the faint laughter and conversation in the hall behind us as women lined up during the lunch break. Just a little while before, as I was speaking to the group, I saw her tears fall and thought she might need some more time just to talk. Just to be. Just to say out loud whatever was bothering her. Sometimes as a wife and a mom, you don’t always get that opportunity.
She started telling me about her kids. Her son was nine with muscular dystrophy. He was starting to have enough difficulty walking that they knew he probably needed to start using a wheelchair soon. Her daughter, a little younger, had autism. This young mom sat in front of me, looking helpless and tired and worn down and much older than her actual age. As her tears fell and she wiped her nose with a tissue, she assured me over and over how much she loved her kids. But then she took a breath and looked at me, ready to unload what I’m sure was on her heart during that morning’s session.
“I love my kids. But I’m not sure if I love God anymore,” she said. “I don’t understand how he could allow these things to happen to my kids. They’re kids. They’re innocent. Neither one of them will ever have the chance to just be normal. My son may not even grow up to be an adult.” She paused. “What did they do to deserve these lives they’ve been given?” Her lip trembled.
“I’m so mad at him,” she said. “I stopped praying a long time ago, because he didn’t seem to answer anything I asked. Why would God do this? Why would he do this to children? Why would he do this to my husband and me?”
Things happen in our lives, hurts and disappointments and tragedies we can’t explain and don’t understand. If you’re not a Christian and you don’t have that relationship with Christ, you might be prone to say God is out to get you. But if you are a Christian and you do know Christ and his love and you strive to follow him and live for him, you may not want to say God is out to get you out loud, but you secretly may still wonder deep down if he is—or at least you question what he’s thinking….
5 Ways to Deal With Your Anger Towards God
1. Realize you have a choice.
No one makes you angry with God. You choose that feeling, and when you allow resentment to separate you from God, to build up a wall of your own making, you choose a form of bitterness over his love. Don’t be bitter. Don’t throw away the goodness of God in your life. Sometimes when we say we’re angry with God, we’re really just afraid he can’t do anything about our hurts. Choose to give your pain to God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
2. Look for truth in the situation.
When we’re angry or upset with someone else, there’s often some truth to why we’re upset. But when we’re angry with God, it’s usually because of a lie we’re accepting as truth. Maybe we think if God loved us enough, bad things wouldn’t happen, or if God were really as all-powerful as his Word says, a close family member wouldn’t be so sick or a friend wouldn’t have died. But we can’t hold these kinds of statements up to the Bible, our standard, and see them as accurate.
God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t hold grudges. What he does is right and good. Our incomplete comprehension of who God is sometimes makes it harder for us to understand what he does and why he does it. When you find yourself getting frustrated with God’s action or lack of action, as interpreted by your own observations, pull out Scripture that reminds you of who God truly is. Here are some verses to get you started:
Jeremiah 10:10—He’s the true God, the living God, and the “eternal King.”
Isaiah 45:18—He alone is God, and there is no other.
Hebrews 4:16—We can come to God with confidence and find mercy and grace in him alone.
Isaiah 26:4—We can trust in God forever because he is everlasting.
Jeremiah 23:24—We cannot hide from God.
3. Ask questions.
You may have grown up in a family or a church where your faith or even your very salvation was suspect if you ever questioned God. But Job was a man who by God’s own admission had done nothing wrong, and he still experienced great personal problems and questioned God about them. So go ahead—ask the hard questions. Write those questions out in a journal, if it helps. Write out your thoughts to God while you’re there. Let your questions form into prayers, and understand God wants to listen to it all because he shows his love and his grace to his children. Ask him for deeper understanding as well.
4. Reinforce your trust.
At some point, through some circumstance or situation in your life, God showed you he is trustworthy. Think of those times when you trusted him with everything, and he provided what you needed. God doesn’t change. He is the same God who provided for you then, and he will still provide for you now. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” That means it’s better to trust in God than in ourselves too.
Just as it’s hard to stay mad at someone you keep praying for, it’s hard to stay mad at God when you hold that line of communication open through prayer. Prayer builds our faith, it builds our trust, and it helps keep our perspective where it needs to be.
God is God. He is sovereign and he is in control. We are not. So when we allow ourselves to get mad at God, we’re saying we don’t trust God enough to lead us, to provide for us, to understand our needs. But we know from his Word that he does, and we must take that to heart. We must believe.
Is there someone in your life who you’re struggling to forgive? Read my new book, How Can I Possibly Forgive: Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret, available NOW wherever books are sold. Or order your signed copy from my online store at sarahorn.com/shop.