Here is the 8th and final installment of KM Prayer Pastor Clay Elliott’s series Livin On A Prayer.
Satan’s aim is to destroy our joy and trust and delight in God, and to make God look worthless in the world’s eyes. Every time someone forsakes God for the world, gets angry at God when part of the world gets taken away from them, they highlight the world as valuable…and every time someone stays with God, when the world is taken away, and praises God, they highlight the value and glory of God.
We finally made it! We’re dealing with the last barrier to finding intimacy with God in our series entitled “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
#8- Angry at God! He didn’t answer the way I felt like He should have answered. “I’ve dealt with so much heartache, pain, and illness in this life…and God seems distant, uncaring, and unsympathetic to my needs. Does He really even care?”
Endurance. Perseverance. Determination. These words describe how we are to respond to trials and suffering we experience in this life. But what happens when you feel like you are having to deal with undue or unmerited difficulties? What if you feel like you are having to suffer unfairly? Where is God in all of this? What happens to our view of God and how we respond to Him as we deal with pain and suffering; maybe even for an extended period of time? Do we get sinfully angry at God?
I’d really like to say that I’ve never gotten angry at God for the things I have had to endure and suffer through. And for quite a long time I believe I could have said that. But in the past year and a half or so, circumstances in my life, health-wise, have changed pretty drastically (See Livin’ on a Prayer part 4). And I’ve found myself at times very angry, confused, distrusting, and disillusioned by what God’s purposes are for taking me through MORE health issues and pain; even more than I have already endured in this life. So, here’s what I’ve been learning, and maybe it’ll help somebody.
I get angry at God because I don’t get my way, on my time frame, when I feel like I should be given what I feel like I deserve. I want what I want, when I want it, and I’m gonna get sinfully angry with God to get it. I get angry with God because, in my humanity, I hate feeling afraid, anxious, and not in control of all of my faculties, which are at times so frail.
Though the emotions are real, they become misplaced as we develop our own “kingdom” or “queendom” in place of God. “God can’t be good,” we reason. “If He was good He would take this pain away from me, or wouldn’t have allowed my marriage to fall apart…etc. I can no longer trust in this God who lets me suffer instead of rescues me from my circumstances (actions) or negative feelings, or in the way I want Him to, or at the time that I think I’ve had enough! If He doesn’t pluck me out of this, then I will NOT trust Him to be in control of the rest of my life!” Sound familiar? Of course it does.
We take on a, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get?” kind of mentality. Which is how many of us respond when God allows us to have to deal with hardships in life. We think God should have done ___________! “I’ve been a good Christian, a loving husband, a faithful friend, a hard worker…etc. And this is the thanks I get…NO THANKS!!!”
However, there’s a really important principle at work here that we can’t ignore. Being angry at God is wrong because it accuses God of doing wrong. “To be angry with God is to perceive some wrong in God, to apprehend some evil in his ways (Angry at God? by Robert D. Jones).” This can never be so because we all understand that God is perfect in all His ways.
Of course, one of the most well-known examples of someone being angry toward God is Jonah (Jonah 3:10-4:10). But another one of my favorite examples of this in Scripture comes from 1 Chronicles 13. David had a great plan to return the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. As he and the Israelites were on their way, one of the oxen stumbled, wobbling the ark. One of the leaders, Uzzah, reached his hand out to steady the ark and instantly God struck him dead! You see, one of God’s laws was that no human was to ever touch the ark (Num. 4:15). Uzzah had disregarded God’s holiness and God responded with wrath.
David got sinfully angry at God, thinking that God’s punishment of Uzzah was too harsh and would ultimately destroy the morale of the Israelites. God should have overlooked Uzzah’s well-intentioned mistake, David reasoned. David then became God’s judge…not a good place to be I’m afraid.
Why did David question God’s judgment of this situation? Was it because God really was being too harsh and not as loving as He should have been? Absolutely not! God does not make mistakes. He is completely wrathful, completely loving, and completely sovereign simultaneously. If He weren’t He would cease to be God. The problem was in David’s own heart; He was angry at God because he was afraid that the Israelites would turn back and deny David and his God.
When circumstances in our lives get to the point that we are doubting God’s goodness and become angry with Him, we must take extra measures to begin to trust in His all-sufficient plans for our life.
You see, from what I explained above, I was afraid of losing the THINGS that I thought were most important to me: control, putting my best face forward, the façade that I had my life together…etc. Pride and selfishness drove me into paralyzing fear of feeling like people would look down on me once again and that God didn’t care anymore about me or my circumstances. Do you see the wrong thought processes here? It’s not about feeling better, or making myself feel and look perfect to everyone else! And it’s certainly not about feeling as though God has had enough of me and taken His Spirit away from me. That’s just terrible theology!!!
The most important thing is whether or not I will surrender myself into the sovereign hands and control of the One who cares for me, far better than I can ever care for myself. I need to count everything as loss (even my physical pain and suffering) and gain Christ (Phil. 3:8)! It’s only when I am willing to place my entire life and trust into God’s merciful care that I will find the rest that I need; even rest from my sinful anger!
So how do we go through this life of pain and suffering and still trust that God knows what He’s doing and is in control of our every breath? First, we repent of believing that God HAS TO work in a certain way! And then we must understand that He is using every single event in our lives for His own gracious purposes. We have the ability to cast all our cares on the Lord because He cares for us (1Pt. 5:7). What a great idea! The more we are willing to take our pains, sufferings, doubts, and hurts to the Lord, the better equipped we become to handle the difficulties we experience in life. The more I look to Jesus and realize that He is the One who takes care of me even through my unbelief and lack of faith in His goodness, the more these momentary trials are producing in me, “an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).” I then have the wonderful opportunity to worship my Father completely as “the things on Earth grow strangely dim in the Light of His glory and grace.”
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Pastoral Ministries and Prayer
clay@GoKMUSA.org (731) 217-1741
Here are two of this month’s prayer requests from KM missionaries in the field.
From the KM mission team working in Rama, Israel. “Thank you for praying for our children. We thank God that our son is adjusting well in Germany and is finding fellowship with other Christian students. Please pray for our congregational meeting in Bethlehem this month: for power in the preaching, success with the technology (the service will be broadcast live through the Al Karma satellites) and all the necessary finances. Please pray for our youth. The youth leader from Afula resigned because the drive was too far.”
From the KM Missions Academy team based in Basel, Switzerland. “Please pray for the students of the Missions Academy, whose classroom studies in Wustenrot will run from January 8 – April 13. We thank God for motivated students and teachers. This year most of the students are English speaking. Please pray that the lessons will be profitable and directly beneficial for their future missionary service!”