2019-02-20
One of the five stages of grief is anger. When a person has died, those left behind cycle through denial, anger, bargaining, depression until they finally reach acceptance. Though it is unpleasant, anger is a necessary step in this process. The anger could be directed someone that a person feels failed to save their loved one. A person who lost a loved one may be angry at the doctors they feel did not do their jobs if the loved one died of disease. A person may be angry at whoever they feel was responsible for the cause of death. This could be someone directly related to the loved one’s death, such as the person driving the truck that hit their car. It could also be someone who really had nothing to do with the loved one’s death, such as a boss who arranged the business trip that the plane crashed on the way to or the owner of the restaurant where the loved one happened to have a heart attack. 

Anger is not rational, nor is it an emotion that is easily ignored. Even if a person manages to bottle it up, anger always finds a way out eventually. When it has been bottled up, it tends to come out even more explosively than if a person had simply accepted it in the first place. Accepting and dealing with anger, however, is not something that everyone is good at doing. Plenty of people struggle with their anger, and grief makes dealing with rage even harder than usual. A person may recognize that their anger is irrationally directed at someone who had nothing to do with their loved one’s death, but that does not mean that they are not still furious. Even worse, a person may be struggling with the anger at the deceased. While painful, it is not unusual for people to be angry at their loved ones who died. “How could you do this to me?” They may ask. “How could you leave me behind like this?” This rage is then compounded by guilt because the person hates being angry at someone they are mourning. That does not, however, make the rage disappear.

People who lost loved ones may also find that they are furious with God. They may feel angry at Him for taking their loved one away from them. This is especially true if the loved one was a child or had just achieved something important. The loss of a brother who had just gotten married or the death of a friend who just gave birth to her first child may cause even the most devout Christian to want to scream at the sky, “Why, God? Why?” 

In some cases, that anger can grow enough that a person abandons their faith. They cannot find a way to reconcile the Christian vision of an all-loving, all-merciful and all-powerful God with the reality that is a son dead too soon or a father attempting  to raise his daughter alone after the death of his wife. It is in those moments that a Christian may be overwhelmed by the question “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” and decide that there was no God to begin with and no God to forsake them. 

Such a crisis of faith is perhaps the last thing a Christian wants to deal with when they are already struggling with the loss of someone they love. Faith should be a comfort during such a difficult time, and for many Christians, religion is something they cling to in the aftermath of loss. 

Getting angry at God does not mean that a person will not find comfort in their faith later or that they will abandon Christianity. Anger at God can evaporate when the person moves from anger to bargaining or depression in the stages of grief. During that time when the anger is there, however, what is a Christian supposed to do when they are angry with God?

A person feels how they feel. If a Christian is angry at God, pretending that they are actually perfectly comfortable with Christ’s decision to call their loved one home and that they find comfort in Scripture is a terrible idea. Suppressing anger can lead to it exploding out later or cause it to fester and form rot on the soul. A Christian who is angry with God needs to admit it both to themselves and to Christ. He knows when a person is angry at Him. Lying about it will do no good. 

Once a person has accepted that they are angry with God, it is best to express it. Rage. Scream. Shout, rant and cry. Demand answers. Moses, Job and Habakkuk all raged at God. All of them are recorded as righteous men in the Bible. Anger at God does not doom a person or cause God to turn away from them.

A Christian who is angry with God does need to understand that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan even if humans cannot always see that plan. He also does not abandon those that are hurt by that plan. Scripture is full of verses that remind Christians that the dead are not gone forever and that God is there for those who are in mourning. The Bible also reminds Christians that God and His plan are perfect. It is one thing to scream in a moment of fury that God got it wrong when He took a loved one. It is another thing to truly believe it. The former is understandable and forgivable. The latter can lead to the destruction of a person’s faith. 

Christians who get angry with God are doing nothing more than reacting like humans as so many prophets and righteous people did before them when they saw the suffering in their lives. Christians who are angry with God, however, need to eventually let that anger go. Rage, then pray for understanding or forgiveness. Scream and cry, but remember the promise of Christ. The dead will rise again. Painful as it is, this goodbye is not forever, and it is better to cling to that heavenly truth than any amount of earthly rage.
 
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