Welcome to readers from the Catalyst Space blog. Privileged to have a guest post with Catalyst Leadership today entitled 12 Questions Every New Leader Should Ask. Based out of Atlanta, GA, Catalyst is the premier trainer of the next generation of “change agents” for the Kingdom of God. Feel free to download a free copy of my latest e-book Finding the Curve: The Secret to Explosive Personal Growth.
It’s not easy, is it? To admit that we are angry at God.
As Christ-followers, we know better. We know God is sovereign. We know He is working all things for good for those who love Him. So complaining is out of the question right? Yet I suspect all of us have experienced times when we didn’t have all the answers. When we didn’t know why. When we wondered if, in fact, God had brought us out into the wilderness to let us die.
Been there. Done that. They were out of t-shirts.
We’ve been on a walk of faith for the last year or so in which very little has gone according to our plans. They got left behind somewhere with our empty canteens under a cactus somewhere some time ago. As far as we can tell, we truly want to put our strengths to work for God’s Kingdom. And yet we have, on occasion, come to places where I must confess that I don’t not have the answers I want. Places where I wonder what the __ [insert approved Christaneze exclamation word here]___ God is doing.
And I’m not always happy about it. It’s taken some time to come to terms with it, but truth be told, sometimes I’m angry at God.
At Least We’re Not Like Them
Now, I know, we all tend to throw a lot of excuses at our anger to conceal the true object. Well, I know I do. We find ways to disguise our complaints as prayer requests. We conceal our frustration in pious language. We direct it at others. Or we just hide it inside. After all, we know what happened to this faithless morons in the wilderness when they complained too much, right?
Instead of admitting our anger at God, we say we’re frustrated at all kinds of things — all of which ultimately point back to the One who governs all things.
We are not alone. I find some twisted comfort in hearing the complaints of the Israelites as they left the captivity of Egypt. If ever there was a good example of God’s people getting angry at Him for their not having all the answers, it would be them. God miraculously delivered them from Egypt, miraculously saved their first-born from death, and miraculously led them out by pillars of cloud and fire — and still they got angry at God the first time things didn’t turn out they way they expected.
I mean, seriously, an impassable body of water in front of them, the world’s most potent army behind them, nowhere to go — what was there to be angry about?
So glad we’re not like them. What a bunch of losers!
If you’ve never been angry at God, you’ve likely never truly tried to walk by faith.
Maybe one reason we don’t step out by faith is that we’re afraid God just might not be there. Or it might not turn out the way we expect. Based on my own experience, I can almost guarantee it won’t. But that’s because it’s not our story. It’s God’s.
“There is one hero in the Bible and it ain’t you.” ~ Mark Spansel
We tend to think that we are the main characters in this tale. But what I am learning is that walking by faith requires that our expectations be stripped away, leaving us utterly humbled — and bewildered — before Him. So that only He can save us. So that only He can deliver us. So that He can then place us where He wants us in His story.
But that doesn’t mean we like it.
It’s All about Control
Control, I give up control
I can’t carry this alone
I’ve tried, for so long I’ve tried
To make it on my own
Now dreams are scattered on the ground
And now I’m on my knees. [Lyrics from www.elyrics.net]
I fear falling. It’s kind of weird actually. But if I am ever somewhere high, like at the top of lighthouse or scenic overlook, I actually will put away anything that might accidentally blow over the edge. My Disney cap, for example. Not because I love the hat, but I fear that it might blow away and I — in my stupidity — may lunge to catch it — and go tumbling over the edge. And as I’m falling — completely out of control — I’ll have just enough time to think about what an idiot I was to allow things to get so out of my control. I think my last emotion in life would be anger for being such a dolt.
So I guess it’s not surprising that I would be tempted to get angry at God when life is clearly out of my control. Was I foolish to have trusted Him? Did I miss a sign somewhere? Was I supposed to get off at the last exit? I thought He had this one.
I tend to think that my own lack of control is clear evidence of a mistake by God when, in fact, it may just be the greatest evidence that He — and not me — is at work. My ignorance of God’s plans is not evidence of God’s failure. [Tweet this!] It’s when I think it is that I tend to get angry at God.
So What’s the Point?
I tend to get the most angry at God when I just don’t get it, when I don’t have all the answers. Just like those complaining Israelites (such sinful folk!), I want to go back to a time when I felt as if life were safe, secure, and predictable. Yet the Bible indicates that God is up to something in us when we feel angry at God. We can learn if we listen. He was up to something with the Israelites. What exactly?
[Y]ou shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. [Deut. 8:2-4 emphasis mine]
Oh, so that’s it. Humility. I was afraid of that.
Nothing quite so humbling as being in a tight spot with zero options. Like falling from the top of a lighthouse. Talk about out of control. No wonder I get angry at God when life goes tumbling over the edge. I desperately try to clutch to my plans and pride instead of surrendering to whatever it is He has planned. Hopefully it’s not falling from a lighthouse, but I think you get the idea.
One thing I’m learning from the Israelites and my own faith journey: God brings humility to you so He can do great things through you. [Tweet this!]
Does a lack of control ever move you to get angry at God? Would you be willing to admit it if it did? Leave a comment with a click here to help us all grow with more abundant faith.