Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've heard, on multiple occasions, from my church and others that it's "okay to be angry with God" or that we can tell him how upset we are with him about something, etc.

It may seem silly, but this has always felt a little blasphemous to me... being angry with the God of the universe. Is there any sort of Biblical basis for this concept?


To clarify (because I understand the question is a bit subtle): I am not looking for Biblical basis of expressing general emotions to God, that we see constantly throughout the Bible (such as the Psalms as a commenter below points out).

What I'm referring to is being angry at God and letting him know it.

The phrase that commonly goes with this is "Let him know, God's big enough to take it."

He obviously is big enough to take it, but that does not make it right. That's the question at hand: is there biblical basis for it being acceptable (making it clear it is not sinful) to be angry at God and let Him know it.

share|improve this question
    
Normally, list questions are discouraged, but if you could rephrase this to be more like your other recent question, you could get it to fit into the Biblical Basis question type. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 1 at 23:39
    
@fredsbend - Changes made, is that more on track? –  xtraorange Jul 1 at 23:51
    
Yes, very good. Answers here come more slowly than on Stackoverflow, so don't be discouraged if it takes a few days to get a good one. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 2 at 0:08
    
@fredsbend - That's good to know... instant gratification culture has seeped deeply within me, ha ha. –  xtraorange Jul 2 at 0:56
    
I am not sure what this question is asking. Is this question asking about religious doubts (i.e. doubts about God, doubts about salvation, doubts about afterlife)? Is this question asking about feeling angry during prayer? Those are two separate questions. Can you specify which one you really mean? –  Anonymous Jul 2 at 1:58

4 Answers 4

Job.

Job, who is afflicted by The Accuser, spends most of the book shuttling between anger and faith. He remains steadfast, though he does not shy away from expressing his displeasure at the injustices heaped upon him.

His friends, who express all the typically pious nonsense you still hear today from Christians trying to be helpful, are of no help:

  • You must have done something bad, or else this wouldn't have happened to you.
  • God has a plan for your life.
  • You need to repent.

All of their babbling misses the point, which is that suffering is inevitable, anger toward God is perfectly reasonable (He can take it), and that - FINALLY - the purposes of God are ultimately mysterious and behind our comprehension.

God reveals Himself to Job toward the end of the book, and delivers the longest divine monologue in the Scriptures - the most God has to say about His own nature anywhere in the Bible. And it's quite the speech: "Gird up your loins like a man, and face me." (Or, as I would have rendered it: Put on your BIG BOY panties, Job - things are getting real up in here.)

One way of looking at God's EPIC rebuke of Job might be that his reaction was blasphemous and he needed to be punished or corrected. But I find this a very immature and incomplete reading of the text, especially considering Job's ultimate vindication.

In my view, the better way of understanding this account is to realize that it is through the midst of Job's own dealing with his anger - honestly - with God, that he finally has a Theophanic (God Revealing) experience.

Job reveals his innermost self to God, and God responds by revealing Himself to Job.

You, too, can come before The Lord in your anger, or fear, or despair. You cannot hide from the almighty, whether you fly up to heaven or make your bed in hell. Only by offering your anger, yourself, to God will you ever be able to let go of it.


Your question has evolved to include "and let him know it."

Do not forget that God ALREADY KNOWS. Expressing your anger at God is not about informing the All-knowing Master of the Universe of something. It is, rather, about you coming to grips with your own anger in the presence of the Lord.

share|improve this answer
    
I will take another look at Job; I am not recalling it the way you're explaining it so I must need a refresher. Thanks! –  xtraorange Jul 2 at 17:48
1  
This is a biblical EXAMPLE of a man who was angry at God, but not a "biblical basis for it being acceptable." –  Steve Jul 3 at 12:16
3  
Job is described in great detail as being righteous, and he is ultimately rewarded for his faith. –  Adam Wood Jul 3 at 12:39
    
@Steve - That was my initial thought, but I didn't feel comfortably replying since Job is a bit hazy at the moment for me (thus the refresher). –  xtraorange Jul 3 at 23:33
    
@AdamWood - Very true, however David was "a man after God's own heart" and he committed adultery and essentially murder. While Job was considered righteous and is rewarded, I'm not sure that affirms that being angry with God and letting him know it was right. That said, I definitely need to reread before commenting further, because I might be in complete agreement with you afterward. –  xtraorange Jul 3 at 23:35

Well, first consider the Commandment of Jesus himself: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.". Unless we bring to God all of our emotions, including the unpleasant ones like despair, anger and doubt, we do not honestly and truly comply with the command to love with all of our heart.

As to examples of others who shared negative emotions with God,are the examples of Isaiah the Prophet who despaired

"Woe is me, for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a a people of unclean lips".;

Jonah the prophet, where ch 4 v 8b:

and [Jonah] asked that he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Do you do well to be angry for the plant?" And [Jonah] said, "I do well to be angry, angry enough to die."; and

Elijah the Prophet, First Kings, 18:10ff:

"I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword, and I, even I only am am left, and they seek to take my life away."

And of course, as a true human, Jesus showed despair and anger with the Father in several places, and Paul urges us to be imitators of Christ.

share|improve this answer
2  
I appreciate your feedback. If I could dig deeper and challenge your response just a bit (no offense meant of course): all of your examples reference feelings about other things/people/etc. Unfortunately, none of them demonstrate feelings at God. The first being misery about himself/his people, then anger about his situation and (really) the people of Ninevah, and finally fear and despair. While Jonah could be argued he's mad directly at God (because he certainly could be based on what he says and the situation), it's clearly cast in a bad light, an example of foolishness. Thoughts? –  xtraorange Jul 2 at 5:14
    
I've updated the question to be more clear as to what I'm asking –  xtraorange Jul 2 at 17:49
1  
I can't think of any reason where Jesus "showed anger" with the Father. –  Steve Jul 3 at 12:17

Anger is probably the most primordial of man's imperfections.

Anger at God as proposed in you question would appear to fall under the following definition;

A violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a  
propensity to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party. This passion
however varies in degrees of violence, and in ingenuous minds, may be attended only with a desire
to reprove or chide the offender.

Anger at God is a slippery slope, most often when man becomes angry with God it is without justification. We tend to forget God does not serve us, but we are to serve God.

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation.

Paul warned us about how easily we can slip from anger into sin in:

Ephesians 4:26 and 27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

We as mere mortals can never completely understand God nor his ways nor his plans. We must be ever wary of having our ire incite the anger of God which is always righteous.

It is always incumbent on us to remember that we are here only by the Grace of God, and should have by all rights been Destroyed both Body and Soul upon our first disobedience of God.

We can do worse than keeping these thing in mind, the next time we are tempted, by Satan to lash out at God.

share|improve this answer

There certainly is!

  • 1 Peter 5:7 NLT Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I think anger falls under the category of "all worries and cares." Especially if you consider frustration a form of anger.

Take a look at these passages of David and Habakkuk expressing their frustration at God:

  • Psalm 4:1-5 ESV Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

  • Habakkuk 1:2-4 ESV O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

  • Psalm 13:1-2 ESV How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Job has been presented as a great example and an even more vivid example is David, a man God described as being after his own heart. A huge number of the Psalms of David consist of his weariness, frustration, and anger--these are known as the Imprecatory Psalms. There's debate as to whether we should pray for the destruction of our enemies as David did since Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us, but it's undeniable that the imprecatory psalms are soaked with anger. Read Psalm 4 above again and tell me that isn't a psalm of frustration.

Through all this it's important to remember not to act on anger towards other people.

  • James 1:19,20 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
  • Ephesians 4:25 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger...
  • Psalm 4:4-5 ESV Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

But that's speaking for a human relations perspective. God can certainly handle our anger if we direct it towards him in desperation, and he wants us to. God wants our hearts--ALL of our heart!

share|improve this answer
1  
I appreciate your thoughts. I think we again come to examples of being angry, but not AT God. Perhaps what I'm asking for is not possible, but it seems for it to have biblical basis by example, we would need to see someone expressing their anger with God, and see it somehow affirmed as acceptable or right. That of course would only be the case if we're using an example rather than a command or a word from God. –  xtraorange Jul 3 at 23:39
    
@xtraorange I added some passages that to me certainly show anger and frustration at God. The Psalms are chock full of them. God wants our unfiltered emotional waste product--all the cares and worries. –  LCIII Jul 7 at 14:05

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.