How to Overcome Being Mad at God
Years ago, a woman in my church with a prophetic gift went to the pastor and delivered a message. In it, one of the things she felt God had spoken to her was that part of the End Times ďfalling awayĒ within the church would be because God would not do what some people expected Him to, and that fact would shake their faith and cause them to fall away out of disappointment and bitterness.
Whatever oneís belief about whether prophecy is for today, those words are among the most profound that Iíve ever heard. Itís certainly true that one of the greatest hindrances to many Christiansí walk is some sort of anger or resentment against God. There are Christians in church who are literally furious at God, while there are others who simply canít or wonít trust God because of some disappointment they endured at a point in their past walk with Christ.
The bad news is, many of those people have settled in to that mind set and simply accepted their attitude as a part of their lives, and their maturity in Christ is stifled at that point. People with some sort of bitterness at God either remain consciously bitter, or else reach a state of hardness of heart where the feeling may no longer be obvious but the bad fruit of it still remains in the personís life.
The good news is, some people donít like feeling that way, and wish they could change it, although they donít know how.
The problem for both groups is overcoming the attitudes left in the wake of whatever caused them. Yet while we may understand that, what we often donít understand is that the attitudes are only a fruit of the human feelings and emotions that are tied in with whatever trauma caused the Christian to stumble in his walk. To overcome the effects, then, the first step is to...
Determine what caused the problem
When I encounter people with an issue of bitterness against God, almost universally it was not a prolonged series of events, but usually one single negative incident that caused it. That or something was the last straw that resulted in their blaming God either for allowing negative things to happen, or for not doing something that the person really wanted or expected Him to do.
So, the first thing I do with someone who needs counseling in this area, is to have them answer the following questions:
ďI became unhappy or disillusioned with God in my past because __________________________Ē
ďIím unhappy now with God because __________________________Ē
Iíve known people to get mad at God for everything from not winning the Lottery, to losing a loved one. And guess what? Neither of those two extremes is any more valid an excuse than the other. There is no acceptable excuse to be angry at God for anything. However, weíre human, and humans are foolish creatures. So to get out of the prison that we cast ourselves into, we need to see precisely what the bars are made of.
So, when I ask questions like this, I get a wide range of answers. Here are just a few:
ďIíve been a faithful giver and tither, yet I canít get my head above this mountain of debt no matter how much I give or pray, so whatís the deal?Ē
ďIím almost forty and still single. How come God wonít bring someone into my life? I notice the better-looking people in my church are all married!Ē
ďHow can a loving God let such-and-such happen?Ē
ďThe minister laid hands on me and I felt the electricity go through me, and I was certain I was healed, but the next day, I realized I wasnít. Why would God get my hopes up like that, and just dash them?Ē
ďI really stood in faith for months, and I was sure Iíd heard from God on this, but it never happened, and now look at me!Ē
ďI was really counting on that job, and it should have been mine, but I may as well have prayed to the wind for all the good praying to God did!Ē
ďYou canít imagine the physical pain I go through each day. Why wonít God heal me? He heals others!Ē
So if we look at the various statements, we see they all boil down to one of two factors:
1. God did not prevent something negative from happening.
2. God did not do something positive for the person.
What happens when we fall prey to disappointment with God, is that resentment sets in, drawing us away from God and the things of God. Spiritual growth often halts at that point and does not resume until the issue is resolved. In some cases, this can be for the rest of a personís life, so the sooner the issue can be resolved, the sooner the person can move on. The longer it takes, the harder it is to recover from, and the more control over oneís thoughts and emotions the Devil gains influence over, and the more he is then able to mold the person into a perversion of what he would be had he continued on in God. Someone stuck in a mind set of prolonged bitterness toward God ceases to exude fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) and begins instead to manifest fruits of the flesh (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings) in its place as his faith deteriorates. Just how much he exudes these negative traits can vary from very little, to a complete rejection of Christ in some cases where a person has so little faith they flat out turn back to a non-Christian lifestyle because they didnít get what they expected out of Christianity. It is therefore a faith crisis which must be dealt with, and there are three ways of resolving it:
1. The person mopes for a while and then forgets about the problem. This usually only occurs when the issue has been some light disappointment of no great substance. After a sufficient amount of time, the hurt feelings wear off and the person settles back into whatever walk he had before (typically an immature one).
2. The person comes to an intellectual understanding of his deception and repents from his anger at God. This is comparatively rare, and if you were really capable of that, you wouldnít need to be reading this article. Again, this is usually an option when the problem hasnít been all that serious to start with.
3. God has to enable the person to repent, often by healing him. More often, when someone is stuck in a mind set of anger towards God, the only way for him to move on is for God to intervene and enable him to repent, healing the breech, because the ability to repent always comes from God (2 Tim. 2:25).
In all cases, a personís thinking has got to change, for he must intellectually recognize his resentment toward God is unwarranted. To do this, he must...
Understand the correct theological viewpoint with respect to Godís sovereignty
The biggest mistake in our thinking, which causes all of us problems at one time or another, is to presume that since ďGod is in controlĒ, we have a right to expect Him to keep bad things from happening in our lives. We think this because we, ourselves, would keep bad things from happening to our friends and family, and we assume that since weíre children of God, we should expect Him to do no less than the same for us! When that doesnít happen, we get mad.
The problem is, the Scripture does not agree with this notion. What the Scripture does indicate is that the bad things that will happen in our lives will not destroy us, and will be used by God to develop strength and character. Only in the resurrection will all bad things be wiped out leaving us nothing to worry about, and nothing to stress over. Until then, we live in the same cursed world that the unsaved person does, and good and bad happens to us both. The difference is, there is little or nothing God works through in the life of the unsaved personís circumstances for his ultimate good.
Not so with us. God has a plan for those who are Saved, and the more we seek Him, and the more we live within the principles He has established, the more completely we will be led into what He has for us, and become the person we have the potential to be. It is the disappointments in life, and our response to them, that either make us stronger or weaker in our faith, and either help us more conform to the mold God has for our lives and character, or beat us out of shape and mutate us away from our best form.
For this reason, our understanding of Godís sovereignty in our lives should be seen primarily as His being aware of the bad things that will happen to us, and that He will bring some good out of them if we do not fall by the wayside or allow our faith to be choked off by circumstances and worries.
The sinner has none of this going for him--he is a prisoner of circumstance, and circumstance makes him bitter or better outside of Godís involvement.
Once a Christian has embraced a correct understanding of Godís sovereignty, he needs to realize...
God is good
Youíd think this is obvious, but hand-in-hand with anger at God comes a conscious or unconscious denial that He is good, because part of a personís bitterness toward God is in thinking God isnít really good because of the circumstances the individual is in. Since the only way to repent from a feeling is by substituting a correct belief in its place, I want someone I counsel to come to an intellectual understanding that, no matter how bad things are, God is good, and God loves them despite His not intervening.
In fact, God is so good that, as the Bible says...
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
God is even good to those who are ungrateful, and to those who are wicked! They may not perceive His goodness any more than we might when things are going bad, but God is unwaveringly good to all of us. So, whatever we may be going through, we need to consciously keep in mind that God is still absolutely good to us! Despite that goodness, however...
God is not ďobligatedĒ to do any specific thing in anyoneís life
Whatever you may have been taught, God is not under an absolute obligation to give you a hundred fold return on the money you sent a televangelist, pay your bills, heal your diseases, and so on. There are indeed times God supernaturally intervenes in such ways, but these are acts of grace, not acts of obligation. Now while the Scripture does talk about Godís blessing and illustrates the principles of blessing or sowing and reaping, a factor many people miss is in presuming these principles are a means of indebting God to His Word, obligating God to do something based on a personís actions or prayers. What happens at this point, is that a personís incorrect thinking may actually place him in a position where he violates a spiritual principle, preventing him for otherwise receiving from God!
You see, the attitude that God is required to do something because the Christian himself has undertaken an action he believes entitles him to Godís response is a philosophy of Works. As Paul says in Romans:
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Although Paul is talking about justification with God, he is also illustrating a principle that everything God does for us, He does through grace--that is, because of his own mercy, and not because we have done anything to ďearnĒ it.
Thatís the problem some people encounter in receiving from God: occasionally they fall into the trap of adopting an attitude, conscious or otherwise, that they have done something that obligates God to do something in response. When this happens, they automatically bring themselves under a curse and place themselves outside a position to be blessed!
The truth is, the principles of blessing merely reveal what places a person in a position to receive Godís grace in a given area of his life. The abundance that may follow is in accord with Godís plan for that person, and is meant, once again, to help develop that person spiritually, and to place him in a position where he can help others. People who fail to understand this often set themselves up for disappointment and conclude God somehow lied, or that the Scripture doesnít work, simply because they were tricked into a wrong attitude, or into hoping for something that is outside Godís will for them.
Apart from that...
God works through people more than He does through miracles
There is a parable about Lazarus, a beggar who sat outside the house of a rich man. His mortal life was utterly miserable, but in death he received a great reward. The rich man, who appears never to have concerned himself with the beggar outside his dwelling, died and went to Hell.
If Lazarus was like most of us, heíd have been mad at God for not helping him meet his needs. But the truth is, God has primarily called his people to help each other. We are his eyes, ears and hands in this world. The rich man, being a Jew under the covenant of Abraham, knew he was duty bound to help the poor, but he chose not to do that. Lazarus may have paid the price in life, but in eternity all accounts were made right. That doesnít mean God somehow wasnít being fair with Lazarus by not meeting his needs by some way other than a rich man who was ignoring his obligation. All of us have our part to do in this world, and if we fail to do our part to help someone else, weíre the ones who arenít being good, because God has called us to show His goodness to others as His ambassadors!
Having outlined some general principles about Godís sovereignty and how our expectations of His work in our lives are often unreasonable, it now falls on us to deal with the practical means of how we break the cycle of bitterness we may be caught up in.
The first thing I counsel people to do is to pray, confessing their sin of anger towards God, and asking for His help to repent from that and get free.
Secondly, I try to get them to understand the bitterness they may feel is being used by the Devil as a wedge between they and God. One of the things demons are capable of doing is amplifying negative thoughts and emotions. I liken it to turning the power up on a dimmer switch and a light bulb. The more power you direct to the bulb, the brighter it shines. Demons similarly amplify the feelings of resentment, and specific prayer has to be made against that on a constant basis!
How do you do that? Very simple. When a thought comes that brings about some ďfeelingĒ of bitterness toward God for something, you immediately stop, take a breath, and pray something along the lines of:
ďFather God, I thank you that thought and that feeling is a lie. I reject the spirit behind it, and ask you to smite it in the name of Jesus, and give me the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in its place. I thank you, no matter what Iíve gone through or what I am going through, youíre going to bring good out of it, and Iím going to get through it in victory!Ē
You may have to pray that all day long, but if so, then you keep doing it! Donít stop, donít get tired and think itís not working--do it every time that happens, and what youíll find is that the thoughts or feelings will begin to lessen in intensity until you have the mental strength to ignore them.
Third, I encourage the person to absolutely deal with any overt sin issues in their lives. Overt sin allows demonic influence to affect us, and when weíre trying to close them out, we need to shut the door of sin as one step in that process.
Most importantly of all, one must, must, must, must, must, must be in the Scripture! You need to read it on a daily basis. Failing that, at minimum, you need to go to the Christian book store, the local swap meet, or Ebay, to get a cassette tape set of the New Testament. If you have to, keep a Walkman by your bed and in the morning when you wake up, listen to the tapes for 15 minutes or so before you get up. Reading and listening to the Scriptures will correct your thoughts and give you the mental and physical ability to resist the thoughts and feelings sent by the Devil to keep you in a state of anger toward God.
Last of all, I always encourage anyone whoís been troubled by emotional trauma to watch Joyce Meyer on TV or get her tape sets. God uses her ministry to aid people with various emotional issues, and since emotions are a critical part of this issue, her ministry is invaluable for those needing emotional or mental healing or strength.
Having done all this, I canít tell you how long it will take to absolutely get free. The final factor in all of this is Godís timing. I know people whoíve struggled with various issues for years, wishing they could overcome but being unable to--then one day they wake up free! I canít tell you why that is. I can only affirm there are times when God has a specific time to move in oneís life, and thatís the way it is. Until then, we just have to keep on, keeping on.
Interestingly, Iíve noticed that itís in what we might consider to be the ďworstĒ periods of our lives that God often can do the most through us if we tough it out and keep pressing forward despite the bad circumstances. For example, most of Paulís epistles were written, not in the most exciting times of his ministry when he was working miracles without facing a great deal of opposition, but while he was in jail! Even this web site, which has helped a great many people, did not arise from a time when I would say my walk was strongest and the power and fellowship with God was most visible--every page you see was written during a prolonged period of trial where my outward circumstances ranged anywhere from bad to worse, to hopeless. Do I like that? No. But, like you, I have to press forward and do what God has given me a gift to do, and let Him worry about everything else.
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