When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of all was, what the most important thing we as humans can do, his answer was simple.
Love God. With everything we have. That should be pretty simple, right?
But how exactly do we love God? Well we can worship God. And we can pray. And we can follow the commandments given to us by Jesus and God. We can always acknowledge what God has given us. We should be grateful, thankful and humble followers.
We should love God unconditionally. No matter what happens, we should love God and be happy with God. That seems to make sense to me at least.
But this is where we run into a problem. We are human. It’s a problem because as humans, we really struggle with loving anyone unconditionally, let alone doing so for God. And we also find it hard to be completely happy and joyful with the people we love 100% of the time.
We have all had times in our lives where we have been mad at someone that we say we love. Perhaps it’s been a sibling, a spouse, a partner or even a friend. We have gotten angry with them. Yelled at them. And for a split second, we might have wished we didn't love them.
This can be the same for God. We can get very, very angry at God, blaming God for things that have happened to us. Perhaps you can relate to the writer from the book of Lamentations, specifically chapter three. Just read some of the things he said in verses 1-9:
1 I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;
3 against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;
5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
6 he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.
7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me;
8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
9 he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.
And verses 16-18:
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”
That’s some pretty serious anger right there. The writer of Lamentations clearly has anger and pain about the situation he is in, and he is directing it at God. He is blaming God for his misfortunes. And I would image there was a great deal of yelling involved.
This scripture often makes people uncomfortable. It is a direct indictment of God. It is blaming God for everything wrong in life. The writer is clearly saying that God is responsible for his misfortunes, and that it was God who put him in that place.
And yet this scripture may seem very familiar to you. It seems familiar to me, at least. I have been where this man has been. I have been angry at God. I have yelled at God. And I have resented God for the things that have gone on in my life. I would be willing to be that you have had the same feelings. But it’s not something we talk about. Being angry at God seems so taboo. It can fill you with guilt and shame for doing it. We are taught to love God, and anger doesn’t seem to fit well with love.
But I would argue that anger does fit well with love, especially towards God.
Anger typically comes from a place of pain. We feel pain in some area of our lives; perhaps a relationship ended, we lost a job, we got into a car accident, someone close to us died. This leaves pain in us. And that pain is often expressed in anger.
And God wants us to express that anger and release that pain. Even if that means yelling at God.
Our relationship with God should be similar to our relationships to those people that we love. And one of the main foundational aspects of a healthy relationship is being open and honest with the other person. How many times have you heard that “communication is key”?
This honesty and communication means expressing and sharing our thoughts and feelings. Including anger and pain. God does not want us to be mindless followers, who always pretend they are happy with God because that’s what we feel like we should do.
That is not an authentic relationship. It is a sham.
If God wanted to create robots who would always love and be happy with God, then that’s exactly what we would be. But instead God created us with brains and complex emotions. It’s all part of being human. And expressing our emotions is expressing who we are as humans.
So God wants our honesty. And if we are all being honest with ourselves, we have been angry with God once or twice in our lives. God wants to know that. God wants us to express that.
So yes, I am encouraging you to yell at God.
Keeping in our anger and pain is dangerous business. Holding in our anger towards someone can lead to us resenting them. It can lead to us hating them. Holding in how we feel about God can have the same effect.
God is pretty big. God created the universe and earth and every living creature on it. God is BIG. And that means God can handle our yelling. God can take our venting, and God will still love us after we have finished being angry. But getting those emotions out is healthy. Just as we share with God in our happiness and joy, we should also share with God in our pain and anger.
Once we get our anger out with God, we can start having a healthy conversation with God. We can talk to God and work through whatever problems we have. But if we put on a fake face of happiness with God, that relationship will crumble.
The writer of Lamentations doesn't end with his anger towards God either. That isn't the end of his conversation with God. That isn't the end of his story. He goes on to say:
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning great is your faithfulness
24 "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
He gets angry with God. He blames God. He yells at God.
But he then immediately praises God. He recognizes that God’s love never ends. Even though he is angry, the writer still has hope in God.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
This was not blind anger, but anger that still recognized the love of God. Anger that understood that hope can always be found in God.
We feel angry for a reason. Anger can be meaningful. And it can be a meaningful part of our relationship with God. It helps us work through our problems, and leads us to a stronger relationship with God. As long as we recognize who God is, the loving, merciful and hopeful God we fell in love with in the first place, then our anger can help us deal with our pain. And who better to turn to when we are angry and in pain than God?
So yell at God sometime. And then continue to love God. You’ll be glad you did.