I recently read an article where the writer claimed that it is perfectly okay to be angry at God. “God understands,” he concluded, “He can handle it.” Although it is certainly true that God understands how we feel and that He is perfectly capable of handling our emotions, that doesn’t mean that being mad at Him is ever right – or even “okay”.
To properly evaluate the writer’s assertion, we need to go back to what Scripture teaches about anger. Here are but a few examples: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24), “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20), “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8), “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8-9), “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).
When you study the Bible, you’ll find that it clearly teaches that anger is a vice, not a virtue. That is, with one exception: There is something we refer to as righteous indignation, and this is a sentiment that God actually commends. Righteous indignation is what Jesus exhibited when He furiously turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).
So what was it that made this expression of anger righteous? What made it righteous was that Jesus was defending His Father’s glory – in other words, it was justified anger. God’s good Name and reputation was at stake, and Jesus took a stand for what is right and just and ethical. It was for the same reason He’d so often express anger over the hypocritical actions of the pharisees. This is not vice, but virtue.
Here’s how this applies to you and I: Anger is sinful unless our anger is directed toward what angers God Himself, namely those things that the Bible calls sin. As the moral lawgiver of the universe God gets to determine what is right and wrong, and if the things that make Him angry anger us – lying, stealing, murder, child abuse, rape, sexual sins, abortion, social injustice, etc, etc – then, our anger is justified and righteous because we are agreeing with God and His standards.
Now, let’s apply this as we try to determine whether it is ever “okay” to be mad at God. Question: Is anger directed toward God ever justified? In other words, has He ever done anything that was not perfectly good? Is being angry with God ever caused by some sin that God has committed?
The answer, of course, is no. Everything God does is right, fair, and absolutely just.
The inevitable conclusion we reach, then, is this: Since being mad at God is never justified, it will never qualify as righteous indignation, and therefore it is always wrong. Yes, God understands. Yes, God can handle it. But it is still sin. If we find ourselves being angry with the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, loved us when we were His enemies, sent His only Son to die for us, and breathed life back into our dying souls, we need to confess, repent, and ask for God’s help to put away our anger.
This is the correct response – even in the deepest valley and in our darkest hour. Because no matter what we’re dealing with in life, God, my friend, is still GOOD.