God can handle our anger

So is being angry at God a sin?

I’ve come across this a couple times from some Christians, especially those from the Reformed/Calvinist end of the spectrum. I heard this most recently on the radio from a very well respected theologian who was doing a Q&A at a conference. For some reason most of the questions he got seemed to irritate him, and this one really hit a button with him apparently. Someone asked about how he could handle and reconcile his anger at God following the death of his son, who was in his 20’s if I remember right. The speaker said that there was absolutely no reason to be angry at God, rather that he needed to “repent” of his anger lest it lead him into some even worse sin. His reasoning was that God gives us so much, and when one thing gets taken away we get all upset and feel He is unfair.

So is this theologically correct? Yes. Is it helpful to this person or anyone else grieving? Absolutely not. Thankfully this message was conveyed by a mediator and not face-to-face with this person. Still, I cringed in my seat, picturing this man who had asked someone for some comfort and instead got a theological smackdown.

Is it theologically true that God gives us so much more through Christ than what He takes away? Without quoting chapter and verse I think you can make the case that yes that is true. However we are still left with the pain that comes from loss, and when we are confronted with the conflicting idea of a loving God that still allows, or maybe even causes, so much pain in our lives there will be anger.

But can we be angry at God? I think you can make the case that yes you can. The story of Jonah is one that comes immediately to mind, as he was angry that God would seek to save the Ninevites that he rebelled and refused to follow God’s will. Jonah hated the Ninevites and seemed to be angry at God for wanting to show them compassion. In the end God was more interested in teaching Jonah about compassion than about smacking him down for his anger against Him.

The story of Job also reveals a character who vents his anger at God and still remains in relationship to Him. While God corrects his view of the almighty, there is no punishment for his anger. Instead what I see is that Job’s anger and complaints lead to an even deeper knowledge of God, and that God maintains their relationship in the midst of that anger.

I think that God can handle our anger. In fact I think repressing that anger can lead to worse consequences for us. Repressed anger leads to things like bitterness and hatred, and when we can’t direct that anger outward it gets pointed at other, mistaken targets, including ourselves. But if we accept our anger and work through it as Job did, we can have greater insights into ourselves and God.

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