In Joseph’s Heller’s novel God Knows, at one point the narrator King David comments on being angry with God: “I’m not angry at God. We’re just not speaking to one another!” I know what he’s talking about. In a similar vein, I once read a Jewish thinker who stated that something was wrong in our relationship with God if we weren’t in an argument with Him/Her.
I recognize that. for some, the idea of being angry with God is unacceptable — that we are not supposed to question but simply accept God’s will. I respect, even admire that position. It just doesn’t work for me. I need a God with whom I can wrestle!
Where does this anger of mine come from? Some certainly comes from tragedies within my own family of origin. Some of it too comes from sitting with many wounded persons struggling with tragedies that make no sense and demand to know why. My own human tendency when angry is indeed to withdraw into silence. The God of my understanding, however, invites me to dialogue, even argument.
There is a fine little book by Pierre Wolff called May I Hate God? Wolff points out that we are taught to view God as a loving parent. He observes that, if a child is angry with a parent, what loving parent wouldn’t want to hear about that anger so that perhaps it can heal.
Even moreso, I take comfort from Job. I love the Book of Job and also believe that, along with the Song of Songs, it is a book from the Bible that is largely overlooked, especially within my own Catholic Church. But it is my own belief that Job gives us permission to be angry with God.
Briefly, Job is the victim of a bet between God and Satan. God points to Job as an example of good faith but Satan argues that Job wouldn’t be so faith-filled if he were suffering. So God gives Satan permission to make Job suffer. And suffer he does!
But Job doesn’t take his suffering quietly. He fights back, ultimately demanding that God show up to explain Himself. And God shows up! Granted, God puts Job in his place, in essence saying “Who are you to question He who makes the winds blow?” But here’s the point. God does not punish Job for being angry. Why? Because even in the midst of his anger, Job didn’t stop believing.
So I will go on arguing, being angry, asking questions. And I will hold onto the belief that I will only be in trouble with God if I stop talking to Him/Her
Reflection:Have you ever been angry with God? How did you deal with that anger?
Further Reading: May I Hate God? by Pierre Wolff
The First Dissident by William Safire (Yes, the same William Safire who wrote speeches for Nixon). This is a wonderful exploration of the Book of Job within the context of politics.