The angry words, like missiles aimed for their intended target, were carelessly flying out of my mouth.
Are you angry with me?
In the fifteen minutes of conversation that had passed between us, it was the one question my husband asked that made me clamp my mouth shut abruptly. Instead of the sound of my destructive words spewing, there was now total silence.
I didn’t want to answer him. I was angry, but I recognized that if I told him I was, I might not be able to stay that way. And I wasn’t ready to let go of my anger.
Because if I did let go, I would have to let go of the smug satisfaction that I had a right to hold onto my hurt.
Twenty-three years of marriage had taught me that there was strong possibility that I would no longer feel justified in my anger if we talked it out. That I could even be wrong.
And frankly, right then, I didn’t want to hear my husband’s side of the story.
At that moment, I wanted to feel justified rather than to be reconciled to my husband.
Are you angry with God?
Are you allowed to even let that thought into your conscience thinking? Won’t He strike you dead on the spot for questioning Him? The answer to these questions is a resounding, “No!” It is far worse if we decide instead to recede back into a denial of our anger rather than to take the necessary, life-giving step of pondering and acting upon the question.
Our dishonesty and discomfort with pondering the question with Him leads us into trouble as we run from our feelings. Even if we cannot bring ourselves to admit that we are angry, our lives will start to tell on us through our actions.
Is God threatened by us being angry with Him? An Old Testament prophet’s life holds the answer to that question.
The makings of an angry prophet
Some of us may feel very ignorant if we are asked about the prophets of the Old Testament. We may have no clue who Zechariah, Nahum, or Habbakuk were, but most of us can identify Jonah. Say his name and images of a raging sea and a swallowing by a great fish immediately come to our minds.
God asked Jonah to go tell the Ninevites to repent. The Ninevites were barbaric in their cruelty. They would commit unthinkable atrocities such as impaling their enemies or taking those they hated into the desert to leave only their heads exposed after burying them in the sand. The Ninevites hated the Israelites. Because Jonah believed God’s Word, he knew that a cruel foreign invader like Nineveh would conquer Israel (see Deuteronomy 28:32-37), kill his fellow countrymen and make the rest refugees in a foreign land.
Um…is it any wonder Jonah did not want to obey God? He was offended and furious that God would ask him to go to those people.
Four revealing signs we may be angry with God
We may have been so afraid with God’s reaction to us that we are in denial over our anger with Him. Here are four signs of anger towards Him that we might not have recognized before:
1) We are running away from Him.
What was the first thing Jonah did after God told him to go to those people, the Ninevites?
But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:3 (NKJV)
He bought a one-way ticket to get the farthest away from God that He possibly could!
We might not book a ticket to Tarshish, but we can run away in other ways through:
- Busyness as a distraction in our lives
- Denial of our true feelings
- Destructive behavior/choices
- Avoiding spending time in His Word
2) Others around us are being affected by our anger
So [the sailors] asked [Jonah], “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?” Jonah 1:8 (NIV)
The sailors on the ship with Jonah were victims of Jonah’s anger and bitterness toward God. Jonah never intended them to know why he was on the ship. It didn’t matter. The consequences of the bitterness revealed themselves to those who were around him. A very real danger of anger is what it gradually turns into if not dealt with constructively. We are fooling ourselves if we think our anger with God is not going to affect those around us.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15 (NLT)
Undealt-with anger equals bitterness.
The sad truth is that not being honest with God affects not only us, but those around us-especially those most dear to us who are innocent.
3) We have an apathetic attitude toward our spiritual welfare
Because the storm was growing worse and worse, the [sailors] said to [Jonah], “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea to make the sea quiet down, because I know it’s my fault you are in this severe storm.” Jonah 1:11-12 (NET)
Jonah would have rather drowned than get honest with the Lord.
Ok…our apathy is pretty far reaching when we don’t care what happens to us when we disobey. When we would rather run from God than get things right with Him, with no care about what being out of fellowship with Him means, we are in sad shape.
Jonah was so upset that the Lord had mercy on his enemies that he wanted to die right then. I understand Jonah. I, too, have gone months with an apathetic attitude about my relationship to the Lord because I am so upset about His mercy to someone undeserving in my opinion. Because I struggled with anger, I couldn’t forgive. (If this is something that you can relate to, please join my FREE 4 video course below.)
4) We have a lack of compassion for others
This displeased Jonah terribly and he became very angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, this is just what I thought would happen when I was in my own country. This is what I tried to prevent by attempting to escape to Tarshish!—because I knew that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment. 3 So now, Lord, kill me instead, because I would rather die than live!” Jonah 4:1-3 (NET)
God had mercy on the Ninevites! Those wretched barbarians who didn’t deserve God’s mercy. Jonah was angry that God was showing them the same mercy He had shown to Jonah by saving his life from drowning.
Destructive anger is self-centered. Because life becomes all about us-our wants, our feelings, our needs, our dreams.
We have no room for seeing anything but the fact that God didn’t or isn’t doing what we wanted Him to do. Instead of being in awe of God’s faithfulness to His character and in awe of His sovereign plan for our lives, we can get to the point where WE JUST DON’T CARE.
What do we do about our anger?
When I was working through my anger, I copied down Scriptures on 3×5 cards that I would recite out loud on my daily walk. I have created some beautiful cards with four powerful passages that transformed my perspective. Download by clicking on the link below!
How do you resolve anger in a close relationship? As I look back on how I resolved my feelings of anger toward my husband, I have used the same steps with the Lord.
1) We get honest about our feelings.
It does no good to deny or run from them. The Psalms are wonderful to recite back to the Lord when we don’t understand what is happening (see the Scriptures in my freebie above).
2) We ask for a soft heart to listen.
I had to calm down and listen to my husband. Just as I had first feared, I had to let go of my anger as he talked through the problem with me. It made me understand what I didn’t have the ability to understand before. Hearing my husband’s heart helped me see his perspective. Hearing from the Lord will do the same for our anger. We have to go to God’s Word to hear Him speak truth over us.
3) We repent.
I had to apologize to my husband. One of the most gnawing questions I have about Jonah is that I don’t know if he did this with the Lord. The Lord is always right and just. Always. My perspective is the one that is skewed.
4) We desire restoration of relationship more than having all the answers.
Sometimes what we hear from the Lord does not make our circumstances any different. We still don’t understand what He is doing. But we have to come to the point of surrender when we want reconciliation with Him more than we want to be justified in our own eyes. This is the stuff of faith. And it can be HARD.
But it is the pathway of peace.
God is not threatened by our anger, but He longs to work through it with us.
Have any of the four revealing signs of anger with God shown up in your life?
How have you handled your anger and found reconciliation in your relationship with Him? I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment below!