Updated: Oct 8, 2021
3 Reasons I Get Mad at God & the Prophet Who Understood the Struggle
Sometimes I can be petty- like really petty. When things don’t go the way I plan or want I get in my feelings and stay there. I don’t want to talk about the situation or event. I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to seek wise counsel. I just want to sulk.
After studying scripture, I found no one would be able to understand my frustration quite like the Old Testament prophet Jonah. When he got mad at God, he really got mad and his excuses were just as trivial as mine.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why I’ve been mad at God in the past and how Jonah could relate:
#1. He Doesn’t Do Things My Way
I make plans. God changes them.
I pray for one thing. God comes through with something else.
I want something right now. God makes me wait.
There are times when God just doesn’t do things the way I want and that irritates me. Ok, fine- it makes me mad. There, I said it. Of course, most people would never admit they get mad at God when things don’t go their way. However, Jonah and I are not most people.
When God saved the Ninevites. Jonah didn’t like it because well... it wasn’t what Jonah wanted. To him, saving the city just didn’t seem like the right thing to do as evidenced in Jonah 4:1.
“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.”
He wanted God to destroy the city of Nineveh to teach the residents a lesson. God opted to save the city in order to teach a greater lesson. Fortunately for us, God doesn’t do things our way because He knows better. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
#2. He Loves the People, I Struggle to Love
I know. I know. It’s not something that should be said aloud or written for others to see. Christians shouldn’t go around saying they struggle to love other people. However, the truth remains. Some people are harder to love than others. Yet, God still loves them and requires us to as well.
God cares about the people we try to distance ourselves from- the racists, the thieves, the child molesters, the mass murderers- He cares about them all. He cares about the people who mistreat us, hurt us, and even hate us. Sometimes it can be frustrating to consider, but God doesn’t just love some people. He loves everyone.
Centuries ago, Jonah was annoyed by this fact too. The Ninevites were really wicked people so in a prayer Jonah lamented about God’s grace and mercy.
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
“...That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
If the fact that God loves everyone frustrates you, take heart! The fact that He does means He loves us too, in spite of our failures and shortcomings. God’s compassion for the Ninevites was an indicator of His compassion for everyone. He sent His son to save the world, not just the people we deem worthy.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
#3. He’s Teaching Me Something I Don’t Want to Learn
Ugh... There are times when God will insist on teaching me a lesson. It feels as if I’m back in high school learning equations I knew I would never use.
I imagine Jonah felt the same way learning about compassion for God’s people. In Jonah 4 when God sent the plant that grew and died near Jonah, he was devastated. Although he spent no time planting or growing the plant, he was miserable when it died. He showed a level of compassion and concern for a plant that he didn’t show to people. Jonah’s reaction to the death of that plant should have been how he responded to the mere thought or idea of the Ninevites’ fate if they didn’t repent.
Instead Jonah wanted to remain angry and disregard what God was trying to teach him.
“But God said to Jonah is it right for you to be angry about the plant. It is he said...”
Jonah 4: 9-10
No if, and, or but. “It is.” Jonah was convinced it was right for him to be angry. In fact, his heart was so consumed with anger, he wanted to die. Jonah completely missed the point of what God was teaching because he was not open to it.
God teaches lessons that we would not otherwise learn; lessons for our benefit; lessons we may not immediately recognize; lessons we don’t usually want to learn.
The truth is, if you’re mad at God, I understand. I was just mad at him last week. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to work through this anger.
When God doesn’t do things the way I want, do I still believe He knows what’s best for my life? How is that faith demonstrated in my life?
Is it right for you to be angry about __________? If yes, will being angry at God change that situation or event?
When God shows compassion to the people I struggle to love, why do I have a problem with that?
What lesson(s) have I learned as a result of God’s forgiveness toward me?
Lord, thank you for being a merciful and compassionate God. I am grateful that you shower me with your grace, mercy, and love each day- in the same way you do all your children. Father, teach me your ways that I might represent you well. Guide me in your truth and lead me to a place of spiritual and emotional maturity.