3/16/2007

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...

Editor's Note: The following post may reveal things about a pastor (me, specifically) that you might not know about. I hope this lends itself towards an understanding that spiritual leaders are still human and struggle against tempatation and doubt, and does not aid in furthering a belief that all "men of the cloth", a name that McGill was once called by a neighbor, are simply shooting stars waiting to fall.

This week, in the midst of a conflict, I got pissed at God. I don't just mean miffed or annoyed; I mean totally pissed. So, in the private confines of my office, I decided to write God a letter. I took out pen and paper and began to correspond with my maker.

I didn't bother relaying to Him the details of the situation that I was pissed about, as I knew He would already know all about it. So, I went right into my feelings. I told Him how angry I was over it. How, I thought it wasn't fair. I told Him that, even though I didn't understand how He worked or the way that He times things out, He owed this to me. I made a list of the huge things that I had done for Him in the past two years. Editor's Note: This actually made me even more mad, as I knew that me making a list of things I had done for the Lord was completely ridiculous. Upon this realization, I wrote, "I can't even be mad at You without being convicted!"

I continued throwing my written-tantrum. I concluded with, "I know that this may not be right, but I felt it important for You to know." I balled up the paper, walked outside to the dumpster behind our office, and threw it away.

I found myself wanting to blame someone for the situation that I was in, and I looked around and decided God was the best person for the job. He would be my scapegoat. Post-tantrum, now that the conflict has been resolved (at least partially) a couple of questions have come to my mind about my reaction and whether or not it was honoring to God.

The question of "Is anger ever OK?" is raised quite a bit in discussions about honoring God with our lives. But, is anger at God ever OK? By OK, I mean to ask "Is being angry at God a sin?"

The example of Jesus clearing the temple is always brought up. (Matt. 21, Mark 11) But this is a righteous anger, based on someone dishonoring God in His temple. Besides, this anger was never directed at God. We see throughout the book of Job how, at many different times, Job was told by those around him to curse God and die. But he didn't. In fact, in Job 1:22, we see that it says "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Job understood that God must have had a purpose in what was happening to him. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21)

It would seem that, even though God understands our anger, He is honored more when we choose to praise, not blame, Him in the midst of it.

But, what if you're already angry? Should you just fake it with God and pretend to be cool? I don't know for sure on this one. My heart says that God appreciates when we're real with Him more than when we try to go through the motions. David was a mess, and God said his heart was a lot like His.

I think that, the more we get to know God, the more that our heart and mind are changed to become more like His. The more this happens, the more we will begin to understand and appreciate His grace. We'll begin to move away from blaming God, and move more towards seeking solace in Him.

Funny thing about me losing my temper and writing that letter... The situation was resolved in a less than a day. I wish I were just more patient...

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