Thursday, January 27, 2011
Shaking My Fist at the Sky
Sometimes life isn't fair. I'm sure that's no revelation to you. If you're one of the many parents of kids with special needs who reads these posts, I'm sure you've come face to face with that reality more times than you care to. There's nothing fair about having a sick or overly-challenged child. While the rest of the world goes on taking their "normal" lives for granted, you are an up-close witness to chronic heartaches.
In the strong days of life, we can come to a place of acceptance of life's injustice and move on. We can even find joy in spite of the pain. However, when the frustration becomes too much, and the journey too long, anger can naturally creep up on us.
Humanity has never quite figured out what to do with that emotion. Anger scares us. Being on the receiving end, we shrink, recoil and get defensive. On the feeling side, we experience a whole host of corresponding emotions that muddy the waters. Are we entitled to our anger? Is our anger sinful? Will the source of the anger ever be resolved? Did we embarrass ourselves by feeling our anger? It's a struggle.
And if the One we're angry with is God, an extra layer of complication might be added to the whole situation. We feel guilty. After all, this is the Creator of the Universe who could squash us like a bug that we're directing these emotions towards! It puts pressure on our faith life. The zeal in our worship may wane. Hope in this life may fade and the weight of the world overwhelm.
Take heart! God has plenty to share and encourage us with regarding this complicated emotion. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest." (Psalm 22:1-2, NIV) Do you know who uttered those words? Besides the psalmist, David, having written them, at least the first verse was uttered by Jesus himself on the cross. (See Matthew 27:46) Do you think there's a hint of anger, upset or frustration in those words? And yet here they were uttered by a Bible great who was considered "a man after God's own heart" and the very Son of God himself! So even the elect feel abandoned, unanswered and at the end of their rope sometimes!
Proverbs 15:1-2 validates that there will be things that stir up our anger on occasion. Whether it's a harsh word from a doctor or teacher, lack of communication or relational health with a spouse, or simply the fact that we have to run to the hospital one more time, anger is an appropriate reaction.
However, Psalm 4:4 tells us that we should not commit sin in our anger. In other words, how we deal with the anger is what can be good or bad. Of course, we know when we lose our temper, act in a vindictive manner or hold on to a spirit of unforgiveness we're not dealing with the anger well. But when we flee to God in prayer, sharing our tears and frustration, persisting in seeking His presence in the situation then we're getting it right.
Realizing that God is big enough yet tender enough to handle our anger is an amazing gift. We don't need to repress those emotions. We just have to keep following hard after Him, asking for His help. And we can be assured that our eternal salvation is not at peril because of struggling through anger with God. He tells us in Romans 5:6-10 that He loves us so much that He died for us even while we were still sinning against Him, not before we were cleaned up. Amazing! In fact, we were His enemies. I daily struggle with imitating that!
I don't know what may be causing your anger today. I myself have had an 18-year unresolved trial that has stirred up some anger towards God in me recently. But we can keep trying to work it out with God knowing that even if we feel this anguish, there's no One else who is our Hope.