Friday, February 25, 2011

Is it okay to be angry with God? Question God? Wrestle with God?

Is it okay to be angry with God?  Question God?  Wrestle with God?

These are questions that so many Christians ask, but so few ever get a confident answer to.  I think if we take these questions and ask them from a different perspective, the answer becomes obvious.  What if we ask instead:

Is it okay to be my 100% authentic self with God, even if at the moment it is a particularly ugly version of myself?

The answer is yes, absolutely.  In fact, stated that way, it seems almost ridiculous to think the answer would be anything else but yes.  It is impossible to censor our heart before God.  Why try to pretend to feel something different from what we are actually feeling when before an all-knowing God?

The question persists, though, because what is really being asked is "Am I a bad person or is there something wrong with me if I feel anger, doubt or frustration toward God?"  We seem to live under the illusion that if we were good enough Christians or had more faith, we wouldn't struggle in our relationship with God.  The truth is we all struggle from time to time and  no, there is nothing wrong with someone who experiences feelings of anger, doubt, or frustration toward God.

In fact, not only is it okay to take those feelings to God, it is important.  The tendency of our flesh is to turn away from God.  While those negative emotions are not wrong, if we let them, they can be the first step away from Him.  Unless we surrender those feelings to God, our flesh and Satan will work hand and hand to pull us away from the Father.  I'll even go as far as to say that without letting the power of the Holy Spirit work on us to restore our hearts, we are powerless to overcome those feelings on our own.  The only thing in our power is our submission and obedience to Almighty God.

The truth is that the very fact that we are taking these negative emotions directed to God to Him in the first place is a sign that we are drawing toward Him.  In our anger and frustration, we are actually being vulnerable.  The hallmark of genuine love is vulnerability.  When we pretend that we aren't experiencing those emotions, we are actually building walls around our heart to keep God out from what is really going on.  And since Jesus Christ is the great Healer, building walls of false pretense prevents the Healer from attending to the sick heart, which allows it to grow sicker and sicker.

The true test of your submission and reverence toward God is not that you don't question Him, but how you treat His response to your anger, frustration or doubt, how you allow the Healer to heal your heart.  In our state of intense emotion, we must be receptive to the Truth He gives us and not just listen to answers we want to hear.  While we may wrestle with God on a particular idea or circumstance, we must not try to wrestle control away from Him.  We must be able to say, "God, this sucks, and I'm really mad, but You are still God and You are still good, and I'm going to cling to you no matter what."  We must be humble enough to take rebuke when we need it.  We must be obedient enough to give up anything in the name of Jesus Christ.  We must be patient enough to endure and persist while we wait for God to move.  We must have wisdom to know when we are not seeing the whole picture.

We all have diseased hearts, not just toward each other, but toward God as well.  Just like in open heart surgery, unless we open ourselves up and expose our hearts as being the diseased organs that they are, the surgeon cannot come in and fix them.  If we pretend there is nothing wrong with our heart and let the sickness linger, just as with our actual hearts, it will lead to more sickness and possibly death.  So take your anger, frustration and doubt about God to Him and lay it at His feet.  Then prep yourself for the impending surgery about to take place.

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