I was angry at God when my mother died. Mom worked hard to feed me and my five siblings. In 1994, when Mom was only 34, dad passed away. And for seven years, she worked hard to provide for us.
I remember when I was in form one, I was kicked out of school for unpaid tuition. The principal was a hard-hearted man. I watched in horror as my mother fell on her feet and pleaded with him. She cried begging him to have mercy on me.
There’s nothing more painful as watching your mother in tears as she’s humiliated by an egoistic brash fool who thinks he’s the most precious man on the face of the Earth.
I was angry. He punished me for not paying my tuition in time. Then he had the guts to humiliate my mother in front of me. Treating her like an ungrateful beggar as he shoved her out of his office.
“If your father was here, this wouldn’t have happened,” my mother mumbled as she wiped her tears.
The words pierced my heart as memories of my army Dad flooded my mind. My father was a high ranking official in the army. People saluted him everywhere he went. But he was now gone. He went with his honor and authority.
I hated the principal. Being in authority is an opportunity for showing justice and mercy. But he chose pride over compassion and indifference over clemency.
Three years later, my mother died. I believed God had ruthlessly snatched her out of my life. It was wrong, it was mean, and it turned my family into dustbin hoppers. And I hated God – I was angry at God.
For that reason, I asked my pastor, “Can a person forgive God?” I believed God had wronged me that’s why I was angry at him. But I wanted to forgive him. Could I?
Can a sinful person forgive a holy God?
For many months, I asked myself why God permitted such a horrendous thing in my family. I couldn’t understand how a loving God could allow such evil. My brothers picked toiletries for dustbins. Went to school without eating and sometimes without a shower.
I believed Christ had forgiven all my sins. But I still I struggled with my mother’s death. I believed God was responsible. He could have healed her but he chose not to for reasons best known to him.
I didn’t know if it was right for a sinful man to stand up before a holy God and say, “I am angry at you. I believe you wronged me. But I forgive you.” How could the wicked forgive the holy? It’s unheard of but I had to do it.
Here’s the thing. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean they are wrong and you’re right. It simply means you believe they wronged you and you want to reconcile with them.
Human forgiveness is not an exercise of ranking moral superiority. It is an acknowledgment of our brokenness and an invitation to divine reconciliation. Hence, Christ remains the ultimate example of how and why we should forgive.
I sat on the couch where my mother breathed her last. And I bowed my head saying, “God, I have been angry at you for a long time. I believe you could have healed my mother. But you chose not to, I forgive you.”
According to John Piper, “It is arrogant for finite, sinful creatures to disapprove of God for what he does and permits.” I disapproved what God did and I was angry at him. Maybe I was arrogant but I believe I had to if I really wanted to heal.
Is it wrong to be angry at God?
Concerning anger, Paul wrote (Ephesians 4:26), “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Denny Burke, a professor of biblical studies at Boyce College used this verse to support his claim that it’s wrong to be angry at God. He argued:
It is sinful to be angry at what is good and right and true. And that is why it is never right to be angry at God.
But reading the verse in context dispels this notion. In verse 25, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to put away all falsehood. Between verses 17 to 24, he showed that greed and sensuality were the falsehood he meant. Above all, the falsehood was caused by a darkening in understanding and alienation from the life of God.
Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
As you can see, Ephesians 4:26, encourages us to engage with the people we believe wronged us. It doesn’t say anything about whether it is right or wrong to be angry at God. Instead, it encourages us to speak truth with our neighbors. If I am angry at God, I should be honest with God.
Furthermore, verse 25 and 27 suggests is detrimental to your spiritual health if you don’t engage with those you think wronged you. When I sat down to forgive God, I unknowingly spoke the truth with him. Importantly, I denied the devil a foothold in my life.
Therefore, instead of urging us to stop being angry at God, it is better to encourage us to consider forgiving God. The thought is revolting but can lead to a deeper knowledge of the sovereignty of God. And a little prayer from you will do too.