I can only imagine how many sermons you’ve probably heard on the topic of forgiveness – sermons about how God has forgiven us and how important it is that we forgive others. I mean, forgiveness is ultimately what the message of the gospel is all about, right?
But how many sermons have you heard on the topic of us forgiving God?
Wait, what? Did I read that right?
Yes, you did. But hold on. Let me explain…
I’m not saying that God needs to be forgiven because He’s done anything wrong. When Scripture says that God is perfect, it’s because it’s true. His ways are perfect, His words are perfect, and His character is perfect.
GOD DOES NO WRONG.
However, if you’ve known Jesus for longer than about a week, I’m sure you’d admit that you’ve doubted this truth at least once in your life. You felt like He didn’t handle a situation well. Maybe He didn’t answer your prayer the way you wanted Him to. Or you felt like He abandoned you or someone you loved. Ultimately, you placed expectations on Him and how He would (or should) intervene in a situation, and He didn’t meet your expectations. So, you find yourself doubting His perfection and doubting His goodness.
The worst part is that when those feelings and doubts go unaddressed, you end up holding a grudge toward God. You end up angry and bitter towards Him, and you find yourself experiencing a block in your connection with Him.
It grieves me that this topic has not been addressed enough in the Church. People are walking around with hurt and bitterness toward the Lord, and so many struggle with fully trusting Him because they aren’t entirely sure that He’s actually good.
It’s Okay to be Angry
If you only hear one thing, hear this: YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO BE ANGRY. You have full permission to ask the hard questions and to process your anger and hurt with the Lord.
Unfortunately, this is not a common message within the Church. We are often taught that because God is perfect and sovereign, we shouldn’t question him. That being angry at Him is disrespectful. That asking hard questions of Him is dishonoring.
But friend, your questions, your anger, even your rage…it is not throwing Him off. It’s not offending Him or disappointing Him. And guess what? He already knows all of them. God can be fully aware of our darkest thoughts and feelings toward Him yet still chooses not to distance Himself from us. He will not change His mind about us…despite us. That is really, really good news.
Not only do you have permission to process your hurt and anger with Him, but you must. If you don’t, it will forever affect your relationship with Him. What began as hurt and doubt can easily grow into full-on bitterness and unbelief. So what do we do?
I love the story of Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32), and I think it has a lot to say to us when we find ourselves in a place of anger toward God. In the story, a man (angel) starts wrestling with Jacob. And when the man realizes that he can’t overpower Jacob, he touches the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip is knocked out of the joint. But Jacob still doesn’t quit. The angel says, “Let me go,” and Jacob responds, “Not until you bless me.”
What do we learn from Jacob’s story?
- Choose fight instead of flight. We often want to isolate, to run and hide from God when we are hurt and angry. But that’s the worst thing we can do.
- Cling to God. When you think about the actual sport of wrestling, those guys are really close to each other, right? Like awkwardly close. Author Jennifer Rothschild says in her book God is Just Not Fair, “The point of wrestling with God is to give you an opportunity to cling to him. You are blessed when you bring your hurts and questions to God and struggle with them in His presence. In that divine wrestling match, you may feel wounded, but you will also receive a blessing you couldn’t have received any other way.”
- Expect blessing. When you choose to wrestle and cling to God, take a note from Jacob and be unwilling to let go of Him until He uses the hurt to bless you. I can personally testify that those areas of pain and questions can become the very things that allow you to know the Father in the most powerful and beautiful ways. There are things that I know of God and have experienced with Him that I would never have known or experienced if I hadn’t been willing to bring all of my questions – even all of my rage – to Him.
So friend, if you are struggling with anger, questions, bitterness, doubt, or even rage toward the Lord today, tell Him about it. Get gut-level honest with Him…even if it’s really ugly. He is ready and waiting with open arms to hear what you have to say.
He Will Always be Faithful
He’s not mad at you.
Or disappointed in you.
And He’s not annoyed with you.
So, the amazing thing is that whenever you’re willing to fully reveal yourself to Him, He will be faithful to reveal Himself to you. That’s a blessing that makes the holy wrestling match so worth it.
Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.