The Grove – Anger

This week we’ve been pulling back the covers on a topic that we’d much rather keep private: the topic of anger.  We’ve talked the misunderstandings that surrounds anger.  We’ve talked about mommy anger, about cultural anger.  Today, we’re going to go a layer even deeper.

What do you do when you are angry with God?

What do you do when life throws you a cruel twist and you’re left shaking a fist at him?

Imagine this:

Your baby is due in a few months.  You go for a routine check up, expecting everything to be perfectly normal.  Suddenly the doctor is telling you your baby girl has a severe condition.  He says that your daughter will likely be born within the next 24 hours, that she probably won’t survive, and there’s a possibility you won’t survive either.  Oh, and your husband’s on the other side of the world when you receive this news.

This really happened.

A friend of mine lived this anguish.  And here is her story…

*****

That moment at the doctor’s office when I received that shattering news is the moment when my anger with God began.  I imagined my husband not even being able to say goodbye to me, never being able to see his unborn child.

I didn’t end up delivering at that point.  My husband did make it home and we had several weeks before my daughter was actually born.  But as I lay in the hospital waiting for and fearing the birth of my baby, anger was taking root in me.

No one knew the cause of my baby’s condition.  Maybe genetics, maybe environment. Who knows if my choice to move overseas had something to do with this.

I had left everything to go serve the Lord overseas, and this is my payback? I gave up my life to seek another life for God, and I felt like I deserved a happy, healthy family.  That was the source of my anger.  Here I am giving my life in service to God, only to have a tragedy fall on my family.

The day came and my daughter Hannah was born.  We both survived.  But for weeks, we didn’t know if Hannah would live through the day, much less a lifetime.  She had a very, very small chance of survival.  If she did live, the picture the doctors painted of her future was terrible at best.  The first step would be a long and complicated treatment plan.

As I thought about the treatment and all the other complications that the doctors expected, I pleaded with God that she would be released, that she wouldn’t have to live through that life of pain.

But she did survive.

And I was angry that God didn’t spare her the suffering.

When it was clear that she would live, people spoke of the miracle that it was.  But what I saw was my hurting baby, and that didn’t seem like a miracle.  My heart should have been thankful, but I was hurting so badly that it all fell on deaf ears.

We couldn’t imagine that we’d be able to return to our home overseas when we had given up everything we had to make that move.  Now it was seemingly being taken away from us.  I worried about what we’d do for money, for insurance.

I wondered if I could handle being a mom of a child with these kinds of needs.  No one could tell us what her future needs would be.

None of my anger was directed at people.  I blamed God.  He was the source of my anger.  He could have prevented this.  He should have protected my baby and me.

I withdrew during this time.  I just wanted to be alone.  I didn’t want to go to church, and there were only a few people I wanted to see.  I felt the bitterness and anger growing and festering, and finally I asked, “What am I going to do with this?”

Then I felt God whisper in my heart the same words Jesus asked Peter in John 6:67, “Are you going to leave me also?”

And my response was the same as Peter’s.  “Where else am I going to go?  You have the words of life.”

Life isn’t any better without him.  If I leave him, my problems won’t be solved.  There isn’t life outside of him, just more darkness, more pain.

I had felt God’s whispers back when I was in the hospital waiting for Hannah to be born, but I had stuffed and silenced them.  It wasn’t until later I asked myself, “Are you going to let your heart grow in bitterness or are you going to deal with your anger?”

Because there is a difference between anger and bitterness.  Anger is an emotion that can be good or bad depending on how we deal with it, whereas bitterness is an emotion that leaves us paralyzed and wallowing.  Anger can mobilize us.  Bitterness leaves us immobile.  We’re not called to a life of anger and bitterness.

We are living back overseas now.  Our daughter is doing surprisingly well.  I still have hard days, though.  I’m more prone to fear than I was in the past.  But I strive to not let my fear control me, to remember that no matter where in the world I am, there’s pain, there’s danger.  I drove the deadly highways in America on a daily basis when I lived there.  Living a “safe life” is an illusion.

On the days when anger appears again, I remember John 6:66-68.

If you are angry at God right now, don’t hide from your anger.  Face your anger.  Face the source of it.  Face what you’re doing to do about it.  Because if you do nothing, it will only grow to bitterness and more anger.  Listen to the whispers and remember, “He has the words of life.”

*****

Now it’s your turn.  Share your thoughts, your words, your art on the prompt, “Anger.”

Here’s how:

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Photo Credit: TarikB via Compfight cc

10 Comments

  1. M'Lynn May 1, 2014

    I’m here!  The baby is taking her morning nap, the big kids are finishing the movie they started yesterday.  I just took a shower, got dressed and ran to the computer. I wish I had a shirt that says “I looked pretty yesterday. I’m sorry if you weren’t there to see it.” haha.

    So, I gathered a few thoughts to share while I was in the shower.  Do know that during the course of that shower, I forgot whether or not I used conditioner, so these thoughts may or may not make sense at all!

    I’ve been thinking about a quote I read somewhere on the internet a few years ago.  To sum it up, it stated that anger is our emotional reaction to a situation that we, for some reason or another, think “This is not the way it should not be!!!!”  So, that leaves room for all kids of anger…including righteous anger.  Thinking about righteous anger makes me consider Jesus driving out the vendors in the temple.  He saw that his father’s house, a place that was to be a place of prayer for all peoples, turned into a marketplace.  “This is not the way it should be!!!!!”  He was consumed with zeal for his father’s house and, using a whip, drove out the vendors!  Sounds like he was angry to me.  But, it was righteous anger.  It was the perfectly perfect reaction to the situation.  Angry Jesus. What a sight to behold.  I wonder what his disciples thought at that moment.  I’m going to go read it here in a minute (if the peaceful situation at hand holds).

    I’m not recalling any specific righteous anger situations from my own life right now, but it’s good to know there are times when anger is the correct response.

    Reading the news deeply disturbed me yesterday over a botched execution in Oklahoma and the related crimes described in the article.  Righteous anger that says “This world is so messed up!  This should not be!!!!”  And, God nods in agreement.  “You’re right, my child.  It should not be this way.  This is not the way I designed it. Babies were not supposed to die. Humans were not supposed to kill each other.”  But, what can I do??!!?? Pray. Trust. Pray some more. Trust some more.

    Then there are the times when I’m trying to control my universe and I let little things steal my joy.  “This should not be!!!!!”  A four year old wakes up with wet sheets every morning. The guy on the fourth floor is smoking in the stairwell again, filling my home with second hand smoke.  I can’t write a blog comment for five minutes without someone saying “Mommy! Mommy! Mooooommmmmmmyyyyyy!”

    “This should not be!!!!!!!!!!!” I want to shout.

    Take a breather, let the shrapnel of my sharp, angry emotional response settle. Deal with it. Smile. Laugh. Live on.

  2. M'Lynn May 1, 2014

    ******sum it up, it stated that anger is our emotional reaction to a situation that we, for some reason or another, think “This is not the way it should not be!!!!” 

    the underlined, bold, italic statement included in my comment above should actually say “This is not the way it should be!!!!”  That’s what I get for posting on the fly.

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 1, 2014

      Yes!  I think that sums up what anger is.  “This is not the way it should be!!”  We were not made for sickness and brokenness and sin and the mess that is this world.

      I think when I’m feeling those strong emotions of “This should NOT be!” my response is to push back, to try to make it all be AS. IT. SHOULD. BE.  In myself, in my family, in the world.  Sometimes that’s good.  But sometimes I end up trying to take over and act on behalf of the Holy Spirit.  And somehow that never works out for me, it only adds to the mess.

      And then there are the situations like my friend’s, when there is nothing you can do to make things as they should be.  You just have to live in the broken pieces.

      I love the promise, “He has the words of life.”  That he is the one who is making all things new, that he can redeem the mess with words of life.

      1. Elisa May 1, 2014

        Danielle, Amen and Amen.  This pretty much sums up what we were talking about in our connection group today.  There is righteous anger BUT even things that are ok and even right for me to be angry about can get me into trouble when I try to take over.  It happens ever so slightly.  I often don’t even know that I’ve already taken over His throne until I’m drenched in a big mess or see it coming like a hurricane my way and there’s nothing I can do to stop it because, well, I was a big part of starting it. Amazing isn’t it.  We sing songs like “This is the air I breathe” but even while He lives in me somehow I still forget to hand things over to Him and His perfect plan!  I’m so thankful that he’s not only an Angry God and a Jealous God but a Merciful and Gracious God too!

      2. Elizabeth May 1, 2014

        YES. We were not made for the brokenness of this world. Just recently I heard another m talk about that, because so many m’s struggle with depression. But is it any wonder? We were not made for this world, not made to deal with this pain. And that fact itself is very comforting.

  3. Elizabeth May 2, 2014

    “Life isn’t any better without him.  If I leave him, my problems won’t be solved.  There isn’t life outside of him, just more darkness, more pain.” I think this is so true. Leaving God doesn’t actually fix the problem. Because he’s there anyway, even if we don’t believe he is.

    I never knew you could be angry at God. I never knew you could be angry at a dead man. But you can. And reading this reminded me of a time in life when I was angry at both. Angry about what he had done before he died, and how he had never realized the pain he caused, and how the pain was still ongoing. I was angry at God who let it happen. It should never have happened! (I still believe this is true, what happened should never have happened, and there were far reaching consequences, consequences that extend even to this day.) I was so, so angry.

    Just as I didn’t know you could be angry at a dead man, who is powerless to fix anything, or angry at God, who should have protected me from injustice, I also didn’t know you could forgive a dead man, that you could forgive God, and fall even more in love with Him. (Granted I had to see a counselor to get to this place, and when I started I was so angry I told her, I don’t want to forgive. I don’t want to want to forgive. I don’t even want to want to want to forgive. With a smile, she assured me, not now, but you’ll get there.)

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 2, 2014

      Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.  Love that you brought up counseling.  Sometimes when anger is so enveloping, counseling can be the hand to help find a way out.

  4. Debbie May 2, 2014

    Well, I can’t really blog about this publicly but feel I can share in a comment.  It really hadn’t become evident until this past Monday when I really felt some anger towards God then I read Amy’s post. I never really thought I was angry with God but in some ways maybe I am. We have been with this organization for almost 3 years and they haven’t turned out to meet my idea of cross-cultural service. But we haven’t got a clear word from God as to what we are to do. So we keep plodding along and trusting Him though my husband is much better at this than me. I am trying to be content, change what I can and live one day at a time. You know, in the words of Jim Elliot: Be where you are. Or something like that. Yet there are times of bitterness.

  5. Danielle Wheeler May 2, 2014

    It’s so, so hard when our expectations fall flat.  Feeling for you, Debbie, asking for his grace and wisdom to guide you.

  6. Kara May 12, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your pain and faith.

    My anger with God is completely unbloggable, as it deals with a deadly geopolitical situation involving the country I used to live in, the one I currently live in, and just for good measure, my passport country which is accused of causing it!  I have been so angry with God for not answering our prayers for peace.  And the crazy thing is to thnk of all the conflict zones currently, and of course historically, when God didn’t answer what must have been millions of peoples prayers. I’ve known the world was fallen, experienced it on a personal level, but never on this scale.

    I’ve been trying to find the right balance of passionate anger, “This should not be!” that cries out for God to act according to his revealed character, with accusing, “God! What are you doing? Don’t you care?” And I’m attempting to not let anxiety rule, to really pray  instead worrying aloud, and simply trying to keep praying when it seems God has a different plan.

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