“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It’s not uncommon for our souls to echo these words of David when horrors like death, accidents and decreasing health crash into our normal. We easily turn to God with questions of “why?” It’s not for a lack of faith in Him, but rather a desire to understand why He doesn’t intervene more in the midst of our pain.
It’s also easy for our emotions to turn toward anger, and we wonder how to stay connected with God when He allows these horrific circumstances to take over our routines. The more we think about it, the angrier we become with the lack of comfort.
If God didn’t feel like preventing this tragedy, couldn’t He at least provide some respite in the middle of this anguish? Why does it so often feel like nothing will bring relief?
Accepting our anger
One of the difficulties of trudging through pain, loss and heartache is accepting our emotions. When we recognize feelings of anger toward God, we try to hide that emotion. We grow fearful that anger toward God will result in a sinful heart or even His anger toward us.
And so we might attempt to hide from Him or simply hide from our anger. Both, unfortunately, will not allow us to stay connected with God during these times.
You’re correct in thinking our anger toward God doesn’t please Him. It doesn’t honor or glorify Him. It reveals our lack of trust in Him and our lack of understanding in His perfect plan. But these things do not mean God loves us any less when we’re angry with Him. He won’t reject us as we question Him, and He won’t take back the forgiveness He’s already given.
No, anger at God for allowing our pain is not a welcoming sound to His ears. But He still loves the sound of our voices.
Praying through our anger
One of the beautiful aspects of God’s character is His desire to remain in relationship with us. He knows our thoughts and yet wants us to come before Him in prayer anyway. He loves talking with us. This doesn’t change when we’re angry with Him.
If we desire to stay connected with God, we must pray through our anger. David in his numerous Psalms shows us the benefits of communicating our thoughts and emotions with God. The good, the bad and the ugly. David pleaded with God when he was near death. He asked God why. He cried out in agony with every ounce of pain he felt.
God did not turn on David for these cries. He did not ignore David because of the lack of understanding or shouts of anger. Why? Because David never stopped communicating with God. He felt anger, yes, but he didn’t allow that emotion to halt his prayers. And he came before God (most of the time) with a humble heart.
We must tread carefully with our anger, though. God never stops loving us, but that should not be our excuse to hurl insults out of anger or say hateful things to God. Just look at Jonah. He cried out against God in anger. And God’s response? “Is it right for you to be angry?”
What’s the difference between David and Jonah? The way they used their anger. David used his anger to stay connected with God through intimate prayer. Jonah used his anger to accuse God of not working in the way Jonah thought He should work.
Telling God we’re angry with Him and asking Him why is a far different story from cursing Him with our mouths. We’re still talking to the God of the universe here. He desires an intimate relationship with us, but He’s also Lord of every living thing as well as the Creator of the heavens and earth.
Finding hope in the midst of our anger
Jesus echoed the cries of David as He hung on the cross, dying. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” While Jesus wasn’t angry at His Father, He was crying out in agony. He was admitting the pain and horror of that moment.
And He was revealing the hope that we can have in the midst of our anger.
Psalm 22 opens with those agonizing words. But read to the end of the song. Do you know what you’ll find? Hope. Praise. A promise.
In the midst of his feelings of defeat, David found hope in the promise of God. Hope that Jesus fulfilled. For as Jesus exclaimed His feelings of abandonment, He also brought to life the promise that God will not hide His face but will listen to the cries of the afflicted.
It is we who must remember the promises of God. Our Savior has not forgotten us. We have forgotten His promise. The promise that He does all things for His glory. That He does all things for the good of those who love Him.
So no, don’t be afraid to tell God about your anger. But continue crying out to Him. Continue lifting up your hands and telling Him you don’t understand. Pour over His promises to you, even when they feel empty.
Because the more you remain in communication with Him through prayer and through holding onto hope, the more you allow your heart to stay connected with God.
There’s no easy answer for turning anger into praise. Which is why we must model David, accept the moments when we cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” and grab hold of the time when we can say “For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”