“Mom, what do you do when you’re angry at God?”
This was the question I had to field one night before bed (why can’t they ask these in the morning, when I’m fresh? Haven’t they learned by now that mama’s useless at night?)
The question came after a time of tears over unanswered prayer. He’d been exploring the idea that God cares about even the small details of life. He’d been praying about each of them, trusting that even though they seemed “silly,” they mattered to God because they mattered to him.
Until that one. That one thing that was more important than anything else. In that, he got the shaft. That question was accompanied by so many others, “Why is the answer no? Why this time? Why, when He knows how important it is to me? He could have said no to those other things and I wouldn’t care. Why this?”
And my answer to all those was, “I don’t know.”
But, “What do you do when you’re angry with God?” That one I’ve learned a little about.
When I was his age, I didn’t think it was ok to be angry with God (but I was). God is infallible, never makes mistakes, everything’s got a purpose, right? So we should thank Him and trust what we do not see. All true.
All hard to swallow when life isn’t what you thought it would be.
So I told my son that I tell God about my anger. I’ve told God at times that I don’t like Him, that I hated Him even. I have accused Him of abandoning me. I have refused to talk to Him.
He can take it. Like someone beating their fists against another’s chest, He patiently holds us and won’t let go while we vent. All our anger, our doubts, our questions – God can withstand them. And when I have poured it all out, then I can just collapse in His arms and rest.
After all, He knows them anyway. It’s not like we can pretend with Him. What is the alternative? As our son jokingly put it, “I could stuff all my negative feelings deep down inside into a dark place where I’ll never see them again?” Ha. Right. Except he will see them again. They must come out.
It was heart wrenching to witness this spiritual struggle. On the one hand, it was good for him to learn that God is not a cosmic Santa Claus, a genie in a bottle, a butler to ring for more towels. I am thankful that he was learning to pray, learning to make this faith his own.
On the other, it is hard and terrifying to see people teeter on the edge of doubt and frustration with God. I wanted to grasp our son by the shoulders and out of desperation cry, “No, really, He’s pretty great once you get to know Him!” But it was a necessary battle.
God can handle our anger. Rather than live a false faith, pretending we’re ok, trying to ignore our doubts and questions, we can bring them to His feet and know that He will listen, for as long as it takes. And when we’re done, we collapse in His arms and let Him be all that we need.