Now there's a thought-provoking question for ya.
This was the topic of discussion at our last While We're Waiting support group meeting ... and it did lead to quite a bit of discussion!
I heard an online presentation by Nancy Guthrie recently, and this was one of the topics she addressed. She really challenged my thinking about this. I've always been one to say to grieving parents, "It's OK to be mad at God. He can take it." And I felt like I was correct in making this statement.
And on the surface, it sounds fine. But when we probe it a little more deeply, it doesn't really ring true. Just spend a little time thinking about it ... When we are angry at someone, maybe our spouse or a friend ... Doesn't that mean that we feel they have wronged us in some way? That they haven't done right by us? And isn't that ultimately what we imply when we hold anger against God ... That He's wronged us somehow? That given the chance, we feel we could run the universe better than He does? That He can't be trusted to do right by us?
But, surrounded by parents who had lost their precious children the other night at our meeting, I could think of no group of people who seemed to have more of a "right" to be angry at God than us. After all, each one of us there had prayed for our particular child's healing, or protection, or even just their safe birth ... and not one of us had our prayers answered the way we felt they should be. One mom there had lost two children, a son to muscular dystrophy, and a daughter to a plane crash. Surely she would be within her rights to be angry at God.
We are human. We can't help having angry thoughts about what has happened to our family, or the situation in which we find ourselves. But here's what Nancy said that really caught my attention:
Having angry thoughts is different from settling into a position of being angry at God.
Here's what we have to determine for ourselves ... Are we going to give anger free rein in our lives? Are we going to keep throwing logs on that fire, stoking it higher and higher, getting some kind of strange satisfaction from watching it blaze?
Here's another question Nancy asked:
Will we let our anger turn us away from God, or will we turn to God with our anger?
Wow. What a good question. One that's had me thinking ever since I heard it.
So what do we do when we have those angry thoughts?
Acknowledge them ... We can't hide them or pretend they don't exist. Bring them to God and lay them at His feet. Spend time in His Word, focusing on verses like Psalm 145:17 ... "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works," or Lamentations 3:22-23 ... "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." And when we are tempted to slam our Bibles shut in anger because we don't feel that these things are true, we need to make a conscious choice to rest in what we know.
One of the moms in our group the other night very wisely said, "When we are angry at God, it keeps us from moving forward." And this mom, who is only about eight months along on her journey of grief, is so right. An attitude of anger with God renders us immobile, sucking us down like miry quicksand, doing nothing but increasing the misery of our position.
Just something I've been thinking about on this Thoughtful Thursday ...