Have you ever had hopes for something, maybe a promotion at work, a good or passing grade, a crush to like you back, etc, only to have these hopes fall through? Have you ever been angry at God?
Have you ever had hopes for something, even some seemingly small, insignificant thing, when everything else around you seemed to be falling apart? This one little thing that would make up for everything else you were going through?
I really had my heart set on this one thing for 2020. I had been praying about it for months, no, years before this. I asked God, begged Him, even. But as it turned out, I would not receive it (Matthew 7:7).
Just like everyone else, I have been absolutely overwhelmed with all that has been happening in the world this year. I really just wanted this one thing to turn out in my favor, sort of as a bright light in all of this darkness I have been experiencing.
I started to believe that it would happen. It had to happen. I couldn’t handle it if it didn’t.
I tried to prepare for the possibility of it not happening, though, just in case. I talked to my therapist about my fears and my desires. I highlighted scripture on God’s perfect plan. After a couple of weeks of prep, I thought I might be at peace with any outcome, but still felt in my heart that God would grant me this thing.
But He didn’t. And I was hurt. Then, I became angry at God.
“What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes (Job 3:23-26).”
Even though I had faith that maybe this dream of mine would come true, a big part of me did still fear that it would fall through. Regardless, I have been feeling what I can best describe as a deep spiritual pain.
I am heartbroken.
I’m so tired from my grieving, and yet I cannot sleep at night because the pain is so strong.
I feel hurt by and angry at God. And it’s been tearing me up inside.
On one of the more difficult days of my grief, I turned to the internet to see how other people deal with their anger towards God. I found a writer that I related to strongly.
In an entry on her blog, “Feels Like Home Blog,” writer Tara Ziegmont recounts her own experience with her anger towards God:
“I am mad at Him for giving me a desperate longing and no way to fulfill it…I am mad at Him for giving me hope that my longing would be fulfilled, and then taking that hope away at the last minute.”
I. Can. Relate.
In my reading I have also seen multiple references to the Psalms of David, in which he openly expresses his anger with God multiple times.
“I say to God, my rock, ‘Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning…?’ As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me… (Psalm 42:9-10)”
While no one is physically taunting me, I can’t help but feel a gnawing bitterness when I see people I know online who have been given that which I have been pining over for years, especially those that as far as I know hadn’t even been praying for it as hard as I have.
Even when I un-follow and mute them (out of sight, out of mind), I still receive unwelcome thoughts of them through my day, reminding me of what I fear I will never have.
I ask God, “Why? Why deny me this thing that I want and then keep reminding me of it? Why fill me with these emotions?”
“Why have I been wired in such a way that I can’t just turn off these feelings of remorse, regret, jealousy and woe?”
Try as I might to come to terms with all of this, my soul is still sorely troubled, and each and every night (and most nap times) I flood my bed with tears (Psalm 6:3-5).
In my petulant mewling, I’ve felt like God has purposefully caused me this pain. I’ve felt like maybe I’m being punished for something from long ago.
At my therapist’s recommendation, I have read Laura “Story” Elvington’s book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It.” Her story about finding God’s purpose for her through her husband’s trials with a brain tumor and subsequent brain damage helped me to navigate my own feelings, including the ones mentioned above.
“Sometimes, the things we pray for, like healing, peace, and comfort, are given to us just as we requested.” Elvington wrote. “Sometimes, they are withheld. But it’s not because God is punishing us. It’s because God has something else for us.”
She closes this particular chapter with a Myth vs. Truth, as if she were speaking right to me, in capital letters and everything.
MYTH: GOD IS WITHHOLDING WHAT I WANT BECAUSE HE IS PUNISHING ME.
TRUTH: GOD IS WITHHOLDING WHAT I WANT BECAUSE HE HAS SOMETHING BETTER FOR ME.
Even after all of that, it still feels like nothing I do has been working to completely dull this pain I am going through. So now there’s nothing left to do but to believe that it’s all working for something good.
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born (Isaiah 66:9).”
I have to remember that in this life, there is no gain without some pain.
“What I am doing you do not now know, but afterward you will understand (John 13:7).”
When I first learned that I would never have what I really wanted, I was gutted. I did not understand. I could not understand. I was so absorbed in feeling denied and ignored that nothing made sense in that moment.
As humans, we will always fall short, and succumb to our weak human emotions. Like children who get angry with their parents, it’s natural that we will occasionally get angry with God.
Our parents may have withheld many things from us for good reason, and more likely than not, more often we didn’t understand why, and ended up resentful for a while. But as we got older we learned that it was all for our own good.
As much as it still hurts, I just have to trust that this is one of those cases.
Just like the Psalms that speak of being upset with God, I must try to also praise Him and thank Him and trust that He will eventually deliver me from this pain when He sees fit. I have to trust that He will reveal His plan for me in due time, when I am ready.
What might you be angry about right now? Plans falling through for the summer? YouTube video not taking off? Or are you simply angry at the state of the world at the moment?
Whatever it might be, know you’re not alone, and with some time and prayer, we can all get through it and see what God has in store for us.