Reflections: Being angry with God

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“Pity me. Pity me. You’re my friends.God’s hand has truly struck me. But I know that my redeemer is alive” — (Job 19)

All too often we assume that having faith in God should mean that we remain endlessly positive and happy. This is especially true of times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. People are urged to be filled with happiness, joy, and peace. But the fact is that there are things that happen for which we simply cannot be joyful:

We see empty places at the family table and feel the pain of people who are no longer with us: some have died, some have moved away – and perhaps some no longer speak to us.

We struggle with depression, illness, or financial burdens.

And there are the wars: the war of words on social media, the political wars in our communities, the heart-breaking wars in places like the Ukraine, and Israel and Gaza.

But we who are faithful Christians can draw on a tradition of expressing our pain and anger called “Lament.” Lament is a category of Biblical prayer that expresses grief and anger. Here I think of the prayers of Job; and I think of the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. We can put our struggles into words – and even tell God that we are angry. God does not have a fragile ego that needs protection from our emotions.

Perhaps this Advent season we might be willing to own some anger we have been clinging to. But when we are finished giving words to our anger, I am inviting us to pay attention and discover that God has never left us. God carries us through our difficult moments. And Like Job, we can say: “I know that my redeemer is alive.”