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?
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.”
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