I sat listening to my friend pour out her sorrow and concern for her son. He had been a vibrant believer, praying with authority, intimate with Jesus, a successful evangelist who was planning to go overseas as a missionary. And now he had just proclaimed himself an atheist.
How could someone that close to God suddenly decide that He doesn’t exist? It’s a long story which I won’t elaborate on here, but as best as his parents could piece together, the problem stems from unanswered prayer. He prayed that God would step in and set him free from an addiction—and God didn’t obey him.
The problem was more that God didn’t heal him in the way he wanted to be healed. The son wasn’t interested in the painful process of confronting his own sin and working through his issues with a Christian counselor. He wanted God to snap His fingers and instantly free him from his sinful desires.
Now he has turned his back, effectually thumbing his nose at God. Of course I can’t tell for sure, but it seems that rather than being an atheist, as he insists, my friend’s son is angry, and is trying to hurt God in the way he believes God has hurt him—by not answering.
There seems to be an epidemic of this sort of thing. Several other young adults I know are also “mad at God.” One disagrees with God’s plan for his young kids. Another doesn’t like the fact that God asked his parents to sacrifice a higher standard of living for the sake of their ministry.
If anyone had good cause to be angry with God, it’s Job. God specifically targeted him for pain and suffering. His friends kept urging him to curse God and die, but Job resisted. Even though he complained bitterly, he never denied God’s right to be God. In the end, he repented of his complaining and acknowledged the supremacy of his creator.
Where do we get the idea that we have the right to be mad at God?
We just might learn it at church.
How many sermons have you heard about God’s blessings? About His grace and mercy? About how if we’d just do things His way, it will all work out? How about sermons on reaching our potential? Embracing our purpose? On how God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?
Now, how many sermons have you heard about pain and suffering? About Jesus’ words that “in this world you will have tribulation”? About verses such as 2 Corinthians 1:5—“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” and Philippians 3:10—“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death….”
Our Christian culture—and especially our youth groups—have made being a Christian about being blessed and having fun. We make much of God being our friend. We talk about love and grace and mercy, about God our provider, our healer, our protector. All those are good things. But they don’t tell the whole story.
If we expect God to always bless us with good times, what happens when reality hits? We live in a fallen world, and God never promised to save us from it during this lifetime. He doesn’t have to make us comfortable, or fulfilled, or happy (although He often does just that). This isn’t heaven.
What do you think? Have you been angry at God? Why?