Are you mad at God? Yelling at Him and asking, “Why are you doing this to me?!” That might be a good thing.
I used to be so angry with God.
Every time something happened, it was the same question.
“God! Why are you doing this to me?!?!”
It sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it?
But it’s not.
At least, it doesn’t have to.
Because if/when we stop to think about it, there are some very important things in that cry of “God! Why are you doing this to me?!?!”
Are you mad at God?
This is one of those questions where we really need to be honest. How many people can honestly say, “No, I’ve never been mad at God”. I dare say, not that many. The most likely reason is that they’ve never even heard of God.
Even many atheists are mad at God. I’ve known some who read the Old Testament and then decided they don’t like God. Even if they don’t want to admit it, they probably chose to not like God, or to hate God, because they didn’t like what they read. And so, they’re mad at God for what He did.
Are Christians mad at God?
Let’s be totally honest here and say yes, Christians absolutely do get mad at God. Maybe we won’t admit it, even to ourselves, but we absolutely do. In fact, I wonder, whose life and whose faith is so perfect that they don’t get miffed with God once in a while?
Old Testament people not happy with God
We’ll get back to Christians in a moment. But first, what about some very well known people in the Old Testament who had some issues with God?
Job questioned God
Although the book of Job is located midway through the Old Testament, it’s believed to be the oldest book. So let’s start with Him.
Job 19:1 Then Job replied:
Job 19:2 “How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
Job 19:3 Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
Job 19:4 If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone.
Job 19:5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me
and use my humiliation against me,
Job 19:6 then know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
Job 19:7 “Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
Job 19:8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
Job 19:9 He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
Job 19:10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
Job 19:11 His anger burns against me;
he counts me among his enemies.
Job 19:12 His troops advance in force;
they build a siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
Job 19:13 “He has alienated my brothers from me;
my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
Job 19:14 My kinsmen have gone away;
my friends have forgotten me.
Job 19:15 My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger;
they look upon me as an alien.
Job 19:16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
Job 19:17 My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own brothers.
Job 19:18 Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
Job 19:19 All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
Job 19:20 I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.
Job 19:21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,
for the hand of God has struck me.
Job 19:22 Why do you pursue me as God does?
Will you never get enough of my flesh?
Job 19:23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
Job 19:24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
Job 19:26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
Job 19:27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,
since the root of the trouble lies in him,’
Job 19:29 you should fear the sword yourselves;
for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,
and then you will know that there is judgment.’”
The Bible tells us Job never sinned in his reactions to what was happening. Commentaries tell us Job was patient.
I tend to look at Job more as persevering than just patient. He obviously wasn’t happy with what was happening. Or that God wasn’t answering him. At least not fast enough, since God did eventually respond.
David got mad at God
David getting mad at God isn’t something that actually gets pointed out a lot. But if we look at his words, they may have always begun and ended with praise, it wasn’t always all praise in between.
Just one example is Psalm 6.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith.A psalm of David.
Ps 6:1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Ps 6:2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
Ps 6:3 My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?
Ps 6:4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Ps 6:5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave?
Ps 6:6 I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
Ps 6:7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Ps 6:8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
Ps 6:9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
Ps 6:10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.
Especially notice this in verse 3: How long, O LORD, how long?
Maybe you think that doesn’t sound like anger? How about if we change the words to something modern? “For instance, where are you God? You promised to be with me, but you aren’t! Where are you!?”
A Loss of a Sense of God’s Presence
A sense of being disproved of by an angry God is bad enough, but sometimes in our depression things seem even worse than this. What if God should not even be present? Suppose he has turned away from us or withdrawn himself? This is what David was feeling, which he indicates by the word return in verse 4. The New International Version says turn, but this weakens the statement. What David actually prays is that God will turn back to him, since he senses that God’s presence has been withdrawn. Haven’t you felt like that? Recently I talked with a woman who was suffering severe depression. She felt that God had abandoned her, and her complaint was: “God is not answering my prayers.” 1Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 53). Baker Books.
And there were plenty of others.
The thing is, in every single case, God was not surprised. He already knew how all of them felt.
And do you know what? It’s no different with us. Whether we’re incredibly praising God with all our hearts because of blessings – or intensely upset at God for whatever reason – He already knows. It’s not like we can hide our feelings from Him. God already knew our feelings before they registered in our brains.
When I was most upset a Him, I used to copy Psalms. Just open the Bible and write them down in a notebook. I don’t remember doing this. And yet, I did, because I found the notebook years later. No one else could’ve written them other than me.
I think we can learn a lot from David. Even about how to complain to God. Maybe we won’t immediately turn to words of thanks and praise.
But here’s one thing I finally realized. Getting mad at God means that (1) we do believe in God, and (2) we also believe He has the ability to correct whatever wrong we think has been done. And somewhere along the line, I also came to know that (3) He can also show me why the thing I perceived as wrong was actually good.
What about the New Testament?
We don’t seem to get similar images in the New Testament. Instead, one topic that keeps coming up is this one:
2Co 12:1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
That last paragraph is what we hear about. It’s like the British thing about “stiff upper lip”. Is that even still a thing? Anyway – it can seem like – how about thins one – grin and bear it. If God did it or allowed it, it must be good. So just hang in there and be happy.
But how many of us are Paul? How many of us had a conversion like Saul to Paul?
9:1-19 pp — Ac 22:3-16; 26:9-18
Ac 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Ac 9:5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Ac 9:7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Ac 9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
Ac 9:11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
Ac 9:13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
Ac 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Ac 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
I’m pretty much positive you haven’t been through anything like that. So I think we’ll be forgiven if we resort to the kinds of things we read from Job and David. The thing is to just not stay there too long. And to be on a trend to getting back to the right mindset more quickly as our faith grows.
Did some in the New Testament get mad at God?
So we read about Paul. And we hear about Paul. Like I used to, some of you might even worry that God wants you to be just like Paul. But we are unique people, each individually design and created and with God’s plan just for us.
Besides which, there’s plenty of evidence that not everyone was like Paul. If anything, that no one was quite like Paul. Even Paul wrote about that:
1Co 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1Co 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1Co 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Plus, if everyone in the New Testament church was anywhere near as good as Paul, then why did James need to write things like the passages below:
Jas 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Jas 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
Jas 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Jas 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Or this one:
Jas 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
Jas 3:3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Jas 3:7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Jas 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Paul wouldn’t have needed those kinds of warnings/reminders.
And let’s not forget about this one with Paul and Peter:
Gal 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Gal 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Gal 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Gal 2:17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Even Paul and Peter had issues. We’re people. We live in a fallen world. That’s why we need Jesus, from the time we’re born till the time we pass away. Sin is always around us in this world, so temptation is as well. And from time to time, we will still fall victim to it, no matter how long we’ve been a believer.
Anger at God is one of those things that will come with this life. We know in our heads that God is for us. We hopefully know it in our hearts to an increasing degree as we walk on our journey with Christ. And yet, we’ll still fail sometimes. We’ll be mad at God sometimes.
So why not just admit to Him something He already knows, ask for forgiveness, and return to Him and get back on the narrow path?
Conclusion – Are you mad at God? That might be a good thing.
Sometimes being mad at God can be a good thing.
It can be a wake-up call to tell us that hey, if we’re mad at God then we do admit He exists, that He does have power over whatever is making us angry, and we should act accordingly. Very early on, it may be the first thing that gets us to think about God in that manner at all, rather than just another “4-letter word”.
Then it becomes a reminder. Possibly a reminder of something we already know. Or maybe a reminder to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in a situation that we really don’t understand. It could also be a reminder to ask God for strength, peace, or whatever else we need to deal with a situation.
For me, on top of those things and others, it’s now also a reminder to ask God two questions. What do you want me to learn from what’s happening that I’m angry about? And then, what do you want me to do with the situation and what I’ve learned/experienced? For you it may be, probably will be, something different. But for me, at this point in my journey, it often goes back to something Jesus told Peter.
Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
It’s not that I’m comparing myself to Peter. Rather, it’s the part about strengthening others with the things I’ve been through. It’s weird for me. I’m not normally very outgoing at all. And yet, writing these, talking about it, it’s not as hard as it used to be. And it is even a source of joy. So it feels like this really is what God wants me to do. At least for now.
For you? I don’t know. You have to ask God what He would like you to learn and what He’d like you to do with your own situations that cause you to be angry with Him.
Image by Bing / ChatGPT4 / Dall-E 3
- 1Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 53). Baker Books.