Too often I hear people talk guiltily about feeling anger toward God. More often than not, we get angry at God over things over which we have no control. If we don’t control it, God must – someone has to be in control!
It may be a failed relationship. Or the death of a loved one. Or our cumulative grief over the on-going HIV/AIDS crisis. Or financial worries. Or any number of things about which we feel we have no control.
So we are angry. And since no one else seems to be available to be angry at, we get angry at God.
And we feel guilty. We feel we shouldn’t get angry at God! We worry that God’s feelings will be hurt. Or worse yet, God will return our anger – and we all know how much better at being angry God could be!
I say, Go ahead, be angry at God!
This isn’t like the old saying about not teaching a pig to sing, because you won’t succeed and it will only irritate the pig. Being angry at God may indeed have a salutary effect on your life. And I don’t believe it will irritate God.
First of all, God already knows that we are angry – if not, then God isn’t God. Being all-knowing, God is quite familiar with your anger, even before you are. Our anger will not come as a surprise to God.
Second, God knows the source of our anger. God knows the events and experiences that make us angry. God knows our emotions and feelings. God knows all about our situation. God might even share our anger!
Third, God knows why we are angry – the feelings of helplessness, fear, confusion, and dismay that lead to our anger. God intimately knows the inner workings of our minds and spirits, and God knows our limitations. We often are angry because we are powerless, and God knows our powerlessness.
Fourth, God can take it. Oh yes, our anger is so titanic that God will quail before us! Nonsense. God has faced greater anger than ours and survived! God’s shoulders are broad and powerful – God can certainly deal with our puny anger. We do not run the risk of harming God with our anger.
So if God already knows about our anger, understands the source of our anger, discerns why we are angry, and can easily handle our anger, why are we reluctant or guilty about expressing our anger?
In fact, some times expressing our anger can be a good thing for us. It is good to vent a bit. Rather than keeping it all pent up inside us, some times just letting go and yelling our heads off can be a good thing. Too often we let our anger fester inside us, building up and growing until it seeks escape in destructive and violent ways. Let off some of that steam – go outside and yell at God. Sit in your room and tell God what you think. Pace your living room and give God a piece of your mind. Give God a good talking to! Read God’s beads!
You just might feel better and God won’t be any worse off – honest!
Then you can go about the business of seeing with a clearer mind if there might be some way for you to do something about the situation. Clear the air with God about your anger, and then sit down with God and try to figure something out. But it is often necessary to get that anger and fury out of the way first. Having done that, you can more calmly and dispassionately consider the problem about which you are angry and find ways to do something constructive about it.
So go ahead, be angry at God. God can take it. There won’t be any retribution from God. And you might be able to do some clear and constructive thinking about what made you angry after venting your emotions.
Author, speaker and preacher Adam DeBaugh served the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches starting in 1973 and is a founder and former director of Chi Rho Press. In the UFMCC he served on the General Council, as Director of the Department of Christian Social Action, co-director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations, Mid-Atlantic District Coordinator, and on the board of its scholarship Fund for Overcoming Racism. He authored of a number of booklets including “Writing to Congress” and “The Least of These: A Christian Social Action Bible Study on Matthew 25,” distributed by Chi Rho Press, and contributed to the books The Road to Emmaus: Daily Encounters with the Risen Christ and Positively Gay: New Approaches to Gay and Lesbian Life.