You love Jesus, but you are mad at him.
Is that possible?
Sunday I ate dinner with old friends. Eric is a pastor and one of the most in-love-with-Jesus human beings I’ve ever met.
“I always said that people who get mad at God are silly. How can you get mad at God?”
“That is, until I got mad at Him.”
Eric’s dad was sick. They found a tumor on his brain. Eric believes in prayer and he prayed for his dad. The results got better and better. . . until they didn’t.
In a matter of moments everything went wrong and Eric’s father suffered a massive stroke.
In one moment he went from the strong patriarch to suffering.
“It was hard,” Eric said. One day he drove home from the hospital and stopped his car, stumbling out to pray and cry. “I’m mad at you, God,” he whispered, hardly believing that he could say those words.
Later that day he went back to see his dad. As he was walking down the corridor he saw a man walking slowly down the hall. He was in pain. Eric stopped the man and asked if he could pray with him. The man gladly accepted those prayers, and Eric walked the rest of the way to his dad’s room, shaking his head, laughing at the irony.
“God, I’m mad at you, but I know you. I felt you asking me to pray for that man. I know who I trust, and it’s you.”
Not every story has a happy ending when we pray, and Eric’s dad’s story continues to be one of suffering. Often suffering or loss can lead to anger borne out of doubt or confusion, or hurt. It’s hard when you can’t fix it, and it isn’t fixed by your prayers.
In John 11, we find Martha and Mary mourning the unexpected death of their brother, Lazarus. Earlier in the week, Martha had sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was deathly ill. Jesus was making His way to their home when He turned to His disciples and told them that Lazarus was in a deep sleep. The disciples were encouraged to hear that Lazarus was sleeping, thinking perhaps he was on the mend.
Then Jesus put it in plainer language: “He’s dead.”
Four days later, Martha, hearing that Jesus and the disciples are approaching the city gates, rushes out to meet Him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (vv. 21-22).
Martha’s reaction to Jesus is a mixture of faith and taking charge, not surprising given what we know about her. What captures my attention more in this story is the reaction of Mary— because she’s not there.
Mary . . . who sat at Jesus’ feet at a dinner party, vexing her more industrious sister because she wasn’t helping in the kitchen.
Mary . . . who eagerly listened to every word that came from Jesus’ lips.
Mary . . . who loved Jesus as a sister, but more deeply as her Lord.
“Where’s Mary?” Jesus asks.
Martha tells him that Mary remained behind. Jesus asks her to go get her, and Martha rushes to her sister to convey the message.
Mary stands up from her vigil of mourning and makes her way to Jesus. In that day, the bereaved family’s neighbors and friends would join the family in the act of mourning, literally weeping aloud outside the door. When Mary arises, the mourners believe that she is on the way to her brother’s tomb, and they follow her through the city streets, their keening sounds of sorrow announcing her grief to the world at large.
Mary approaches Jesus and falls at His feet.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 32).
Where were You?
Mary doesn’t exactly ask that question, but her message is clear. She presents her grief with open hands and a tear-streaked face.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about Jesus’ response, but there’s one main point I want us to explore today.
Jesus grieves with you — even when you are mad at Him.
Your anger or doubt or feelings aren’t big enough to push Him away. He knew where Mary was. He knew that she was in a place of hurt and confusion. He also knew, like Eric, that this love was deeply ingrained and that she needed Him in that moment.
Jesus calls you when you are mourning.
Maybe you’ve avoided God because you are angry with Him.
Maybe you’ve thought that He isn’t aware of how you hurt.
Perhaps you’ve struggled with your love of Jesus versus your loss, and you miss your faith.
Let this verse soak in today. He’s calling for you. He’s grieving with you for He understands suffering. He understands pain. He knows what it is to struggle with a decision held in the hands of God.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Q: Why is it so hard to accept death and/or suffering as part of life?
Q: Jesus called to Mary. How have you responded to that call during your suffering or loss?
Q: Jesus didn’t ask Mary to explain her hurt over her loss or even her disappointment with Him. He wept with her. What might it mean for Jesus to weep with you?
Q: Eric says he was “mad at God, but He trusted God.” Is doubt or wrestling with feelings an acceptable part of our faith? Why or why not?
Q: Romans 8:38-39 says that even death cannot separate us from God. Describe the hope found in this verse.
Tomorrow, we’ll explore how loss affects our identity, and how to heal as we find our new normal. I can’t wait to see you right back here.
Thanks for sharing this study with others who are seeking wholeness. You are a blessing.
I think I want to be such a good girl that I won’t let myself be mad at God. So the grief just pours out in tears when memories float through or I turn to tell Tom something and he’s not here. I realize that deep down there is anger as I try to process why the healing wasn’t what we wanted. But early in these days I wrote, “God, I don’t understand this, but I WILL trust You.” That’s the only way to walk through and not stay in the grief, I think. And sometimes it’s a second-by- second decision.
Claudia, : ) Even good girls get mad at God, but God sees your heart in the midst of those moments of anger. <3 He knows the deep love you have for him. He understands the pain. He also sees what we cannot — eternity, His presence all around you, the joy that will return. . . and I think that what’s I hear the strongest from you. You are trusting in what you cannot see, but that you know He can. What faith! What courage.
I would really love to have this book. My life right now is a complete mess. I have 2 children that were born with a diagnosis of Masa/Crash Syndrome (L1 Syndrome). It is a x-linked chromosome disorder of the L1 CAM gene that affects the nervous system. It is only affected in males. They are both paraplegic and non verbal. My 14yr. Old son Brandon passed away on October 22, 2013. My family and I are trying to find our “new” normal. Loosing a child is so unbearable. I am at a complete loss. My 13 yr. old son Brently just dont understand why his brother is not here. They had their own way of communication and would always light up the room with their silly laughs and gestures. We have a quiet home now. Things are different. I enjoyed reading todays lesson. Thanks for allowing me to comment and share just a little of what I’ve been through and continue to go through. If I didnt have Jesus I dont know where I would be.
Oh Father God surround Tonya, Brently and family with Your Sweet Loving Care. Lift them up and give them peace through this time. I ask in the name of Jesus that You would be their Rock, their Fortress and their soothing balm of healing Father. Bring them peace and comfort and help them when they are feeling raw with hurt, anger and anxious thoughts and feelings. May You put people in their lives to help them through this and to lift them up when they are weak dear Lord. I ask that You just be with them through every step of the healing process. It is a great loss, a great void that only You can fill and I ask You Father to fill them with knowing You are there and that You are taking and will care for them through this, I ask that You guard them from the lying, joy robbing enemy and surround them with Your Love, Your Joy and Your Peace my precious Savior. In Jesus name Amen
Father, thank you for this beautiful mom. Her heart is heavy with loss. We know that her son is free and running and whole and shouting all the words he could never speak here on earth, and that is comfort and joy. But there’s a mom whose heart is hurting. Will you fill those places with comfort and peace. Will you give this brother a sense of your presence — in such a measure that he does not feel alone, but rather embraced by your love. Thank you for this mom, and for her love for these beautiful boys. Thank you that she has given us a glimpse of these sweet gifts placed in her heart and in her home. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tonya, I am so sorry that you are dealing with such pain, I have my own pain but nothing like this. If there is any way to send me your address I would be honored to send you this book! Please know that I am praying for you and your family and what a great day it will be to see your Brandon again in Heaven, complete with no diagnosis of anything but full of the glory of God! Praise God! There is hope in that sister. you can send me your address to my email if you don’t feel comfortable posting it here. my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I didn’t realize i was mad at God until 6 months ago. i had a friend who stopped and asked me how my relationship with God was in light of my recent struggles over the past 5 years, and if I’m being honest, the past 25 years. when i really got to thinking about it, even though i trust God fully, i hear from God daily, i know He has a plan for my life and my suffering, i am mad. I AM MAD! I struggle with the “where are you now?” moments and the “if you were here, let me feel your presence” moments and the “why me” moments. I keep thinking it will all make sense if i read one more book, or say one more prayer. I’m ready for it all to make sense!!
Lord, thank you for Pam. Thank you that you are big enough for our questions. That you are present in the midst of loss. That you see Pam and you love her, and you walk with her daily. Thank you for her strong words: I trust you. I hear from you. I know you have a plan for me and even for my suffering.
Those are words of courage and faith. Thank you that you know suffering, and that you never squander a storm or a trial. That you draw us close to you, that you teach us who you are. That you grow us, and deepen our faith and who we are in the middle of it. Thank you for Pam’s honesty. Fill her to overflowing today. Surprise her with joy and laughter. Thank you for your great love for her. In Jesus’ name, amen.
My family has experienced some very hurtful times in our lives and there have been times when I’ve wondered, “God, do you hear me? Can you see me?” Only to turn around and remind myself that just because I don’t see Him working, doesn’t mean He isn’t working! Isn’t that what faith is about? Then one day, He’ll show Himself thru 17 people (literally, He sent 17 people) to let me know that He’s there. He hears every time I cry. I go back to The Word and read “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you!!” “My grace is sufficient for you”. “You are heirs of God and JOINT HEIRS with Christ”. Yes, He knows and I DO trust Him.
I think it’s so hard to except suffering, more so than death, as part of life because the Bible teaches that we are healed by the stripes that Jesus bore. Jesus never denied anyone healing when they needed it and so it’s so hard for me to deal with watching people suffer, or myself suffering…because I believe the Bible and I believe in healing and I believe that it is God’s will to heal because that is what my Bible says. When i don’t see it take place like that, I get confused, angry, and if I’m being totally honest…a little scared. Alot scared. I know that everyone is going to die, I just don’t understand why people get sick and die when Jesus healed all who were sick who believed on Him. That is my battle right now. I had cancer, but am now 13 months cancer free, Praise God! However, I suffer with lymphedema (a swelling condition) caused from the surgery that the doctors say is there to stay. I have prayed for healing and refuse to back off of it, i have to say I haven’t seen a total healing just yet but I have seen improvement and that by itself is more than what the doctors have told me will be. I think the issue is my struggle with doubt and unbelief. Good days, I’m full of faith. Bad days, doubt creeps in. Right now, if I could just get my heart to heal i would be doing a lot better..so thankful for this study.
I think God understands when I am angry with Him. It really is healthy. I am letting out the emotions that could crop up later and keep me from serving God 100%. It is saying, “I don’t like this. or I don’t want to do this. or God is wrong about this.” Then I can say, but I know God has always been right in the past. Doing what He wanted turned out good for me or I ended up growing through the trial, so I will allow what He has brought into my life. Sometimes I don’t see the positive aspect for many years or months or I won’t understand His working in my life until I get to heaven and I won’t care about why I suffered any more. This is not easy, but it brings me closer to God. It is not one or the other, I can love God and be angry with Him at the same time.
if i get angry at my child, it does not mean that i don’t love the child. it may mean that i do not approve of what the child has done. it does not make me right to judge or that the child is wrong either. this may be the same case
I am hurting from childhood, yes a monster treated me as his child but behind the scenes I was his toy. I feel I will hurt forever for it, however God has given me abundent blessings too. I want to truly forgive but when the betrayer acts as if it was my fault, the hurt starts all over again. Hard to describe the feelings. It is as if he has multiple personalities…and he really does. Part of me wants to love him as only a daughter, part of me doesn’t know what to do with the hate and humiliation. I give it to God, sometimes I do real well and other times not so well. But I am strong, only due to God, only through God I am strong. When I go to heaven it will truly be over and I will never remember any of it, right!? The evil of this world will truly be gone. I am single and God has given me two beautiful girls through adoption and they help me to heal, these are gifts from God. I read over much of your post this morning. Thank you for your words of encouragement. God bless you