I have developed something of a bad habit recently: I get mad at God all the time.
If something inconvenient happens, I wonder why God didn’t stop it.
If something interrupts my day unexpectedly, I wonder why God let it happen.
Behind every single irritation in my day is that silly little question: Why, God? Why are You making this happen?
I know I’m being petty, but the Israelites had a much more valid reason to ask God the same questions. After Joshua’s death, the Israelites slipped and fell their way into an endless cycle – be defeated and then captured by some enemy, suffer under their rule, rebel and defeat them, sin, repeat.
It sounds awful. I would be mad, too! Wouldn’t you?
God breaks His silence
God knew the Israelites would be mad. So in Joshua 2, He answers that niggling question, that “Why, God?” at the back of all our minds.
And His answer seems simple: because of your sin.
Oh boy, right? Another honest question about faith and Christianity is answered with some version of it’s all your fault.
It’s frustrating, especially when we’re hurting, but God’s answer isn’t that basic. His explanation goes deeper: He’s pointing us away from the path we’re on.
When God allowed the Israelites to lose battles, to be sold to their enemies, and to be defeated, it wasn’t because He wanted revenge on them for worshipping other gods (verses 12-14), it was because He needed to teach them that worshipping other gods was dangerous. It was a bad idea. It would only hurt them in the end.
Ditto for you and me. Sometimes God allows us to suffer and to hurt to warn us. He’s flashing lights and sounding alarms. He’s telling us to turn around, to leave sin behind, and come back to Him.
But He doesn’t stop there.
Do you love Me?
Even when the Israelites finally listened to God, repented of their sin and started doing what was right again, it didn’t last.
Eventually, they sinned again.
Eventually, they turned their backs on God again.
So when they came back, God decided to test them.
“I will…test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.”verse 22
No one likes tests, probably because they reveal so much.
Did I really learn statistics this semester, or did I use Wolfram Alpha for all of my homework?
Did I really learn to write well, or did I just get good at copying the examples?
Do I really love God, or do I just like that my life is going well right now?
Do I really trust God, or do I start to worry when things don’t go the way I want?
Am I really willing to obey God, or do I just do whatever I want to do?
God’s tests expose us in every way we need to be exposed. Those moments where we get angry at Him are like red marks on a test, telling us that we need to look into this more, try again, see the Teacher after class.
Thankfully, the Teacher is merciful. He doesn’t want to see us fail, or suffer, or hurt needlessly. He wants us to grow and change. He wants us to succeed.
“I want to warn you of the Enemy, not be your enemy.”
I used to think I wasn’t allowed to be mad at God. I would try to pretend that I wasn’t feeling what I was feeling and go on about my day. I guess I still do that.
But I don’t think God wants us to ignore or pretend or fake. He doesn’t want us to try and fix ourselves on our own.
When we’re mad at God, we should come to Him and tell Him everything. He already knows all about it. He knows what to do about it. And He wants to help us overcome it. And that goes for all of our feelings, anger or anything else.
It’s easy to believe in a harsh, unfeeling God. The violence in the Old Testament doesn’t help at all. But Jesus came to show us that love saturates everything God does, and that will never change.
So it’s okay to be mad at God, but let’s not stay mad. If we go to Him and give our hearts to Him, then He will lead us away from the danger zone and to a better relationship with Him.
And that’s not something anyone can be mad about.
What do you think? What do you do when you’re mad at God?