In the course of 40 years of pastoral shepherding I've met many people who are mad at God. They usually aren't willing to admit it. But after you get them talking, it bubbles to the surface. They can't believe that God let this thing happen to them. They assumed that loving God would insulate them from all suffering and harm. They are shocked to learn that regular church attendance and giving did nothing to prevent calamity in their lives. Like I said, they won't admit it, but they are ticked off at their heavenly Father.
Several side effects usually accompany anger with God. Prayer stops. Giving dries up. Worship wanes. Church attendance becomes sporadic. Bibles get dusty from non-use. What was once a warm and close relationship with God becomes a silent cold war. Angry people know better than to reject the Gospel. But they quietly harbor resentment towards God and they keep their distance.
These people remind me of the contrast between Job and his wife. You know his story. God blessed him abundantly and singles him out when Satan tells about his surveillance of believers on earth. "Have you seen my servant Job? There's nobody like him. He not only talks the talk, he walks the walk." Satan smugly points out that this is only because Job has experienced health and prosperity. "Take it away," says Satan, "and he will curse you to your face." God says, "OK, test him, but don't take his life."
Job loses everything in a matter of days. 10 children, his business, his wealth, and eventually his own health - all gone. Job's wife is mad at God. She keeps it simple - Honey, "Curse God and die." She invites Job to get good and mad at God....like she is. She had it. She couldn't stand to see her husband suffer like this, especially after seeing his devotion to God. I've met many "Job's wife" Christians. They just want to be done with the suffering and die.
Job refuses his wife's advice. He calls her a "foolish woman!" Listen to what he says in Job 2:10 - "Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?" And then, in one of the strongest affirmations of faith in the Bible Job says: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him!" Job is not mad at God. He has questions for God. But He isn't mad at him.
For the past year, I've experienced things I never imagined God would allow in my life. I'm not Job, but my losses surprised me, as I'm sure his surprised him. It started with a colon perforation and abscess that put my life at risk and hospitalized me for 9 days. After a month of heavy duty antibiotic treatments, I came down with C. Diff - a highly infectious diarrhea. I experienced a second colon flare up a month later and went back on antibiotics. Eventually, my surgeon recommended colon re-section surgery. Thankfully, the surgery was successful. But at the same time as all of this, I was dealing with the potential of losing my position of Senior Pastor at a church I served for 32 years. 8 months after my initial hospitalization, I lost my position at the church and faced the challenge of setting up a "retirement" even though I wasn't retiring and didn't plan to at this time. Since then, both Jan and I have had heart symptoms, including troubling chest pain, and been assessed with nuclear stress tests and other diagnostic exams. Loss after loss after loss.
Yet through it all, I have not been mad at God. I've been mad at God in the past, but not this time. This time I've trusted God, even though I have been disappointed in people at times, I've never doubted that God is in this with me. It feels good to say, "I'm not mad at God." Here are some of the reasons why:
1) I've felt God's presence in the midst of my suffering on so many occasions, at home and in the hospital, that I could not doubt that He was working.
2) God raised up hundreds of prayer warriors to join us. Jan and I have felt it and repeatedly say, "Someone must be praying for us right now."
3) Nearly every time we read the Bible for devotions, we feel as though the Lord is speaking directly to our situation. What amazing spiritual nourishment He provides.
4) The medical care we've received from doctors, nurses, and technicians has been stellar. Some of them have even become friends. God sent us who He wanted us to meet.
5) Peace. Yes, the "peace of God that passes understanding" has been incredibly real in the midst of several crises. The problems often remained, but peace filled our hearts.
6) God sent some amazing encouragers to us. A card, a phone call, a text, a home visit, a meal, or just praying with us in our home - encouragement is alive and well in the family of God.
7) I don't blame God for our circumstances. Yes, like Job, I believe He permitted them. But we live in a fallen world. Sickness and disease and relational disruption are all the result of the Fall, not some devious plan of God to target us for attack.
If you're mad at God, I get it. But I hope and pray that my list will inspire you to eventually feel and say, "I'm not mad at God."