Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our Irrational Anger

“I just don’t want to talk.”

How many times have we said that to a friend or family member beseeching us to confide in them, only to have them stare back startled, resigned, or disappointed? Whether it’s said under our breath, with passivity, or with a booming voice, the statement gets across the message that whatever lies at the root of any present problem is NOT (and may not ever be) up for discussion. And we usually don’t realize how angry or upset or troubled we really are until we’ve put it as plain as that and heard our own voices.

To often this has been my attitude towards God.

I never understand why when things in my life start to go south my first inclination is to blame God for it. Though I was once able to lay out my anger before God– sometimes maybe a little too bluntly– all too often, in times of anger, my first inclination is to slam the door on God and lock it behind me, saving for another day whether I will ever permit Him entry again.

The logic goes something like this:
Something beyond my control is paining me. God is all-knowing. Therefore, He is aware of it. Because He is all-knowing, He is also aware that He Alone has the Power to fix it. Now, He could take whatever pain persists away or pour whatever restoration I beg for down on me if He really wanted to and cared. Therefore, when my life is a mess, and God, who is All Powerful to restore it chooses not to, it means He either doesn’t care or that His plan for my life is one of destruction. Therefore all that is wrong in my life is His fault because He has allowed it.

Isn’t it amazing how twisted our logic can become when we are in pain and approach God with pride and entitlement rather than desiring to understand and submit to His plan in our lives? We can turn the God who wants to be intimately involved in every moment of our lives into a passive, indifferent spectator.

In retrospect, I’ve discovered that when we embrace this flawed logic and allow our pride to interfere with our relationship with God, we miss out on the blessings and lessons He has in store for us. We deprive ourselves of the peace that He intends. When we blame God and look only for the specific answer we’ve enunciated rather than waiting patiently before Him, we miss seeing Him at work in other areas of our lives. We damage our relationship with Him. We reason to ourselves that it’s God who has moved and exalt ourselves with the false belief that we are blameless in the matter and that God has somehow jilted US. We reason that it’s He who is guilty of bolting the door we’ve slammed in His face. And we forget that all too often, the cause of our present suffering is the result of our own sin or our faithless impatience.

Meanwhile, God, like that beseeching friend or relative that we put off so rashly, is asking us to bring our pain and disappointment to Him and pour it out at His feet. He is asking us to trust in His perfect plan for our lives. He is asking us to stand in our faith through the trying times and He is promising us that He will never leave us and that it WILL all work together for good if we just trust Him.

I have too often allowed a misplaced resentment towards God to harden my heart. And in the end, I’ve only felt more pain at the disrespect I’ve showed the God who purchased me with His Son. This, of course, doesn’t hit me until I let down my defenses and realize how self-righteous and unjustified my anger has been and how ridiculous I sound. This sometimes takes a long time. Like anyone else, I can be a very stubborn prideful person. And we all know what pride comes before…

As I get older and grow in my faith, I begin to realize that though God allows suffering He has a purpose for it that we cannot always see. His plan is always better than ours. How many times have I thanked God for not granting my specific request? How blessed are we that God doesn’t just give us what we think we want to our own detriment?

I forget that sometimes. It’s good to be reminded.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

Will we trust in that promise? Or will we continue to stomp our feet like children in the candy store who have been told “no, you’ve had enough?” It’s a choice we make everyday: To let God in and draw from Him the comfort only He can provide. Or to shut Him out and allow our hearts to harden. We do so at our peril.