In our book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself—How Loving Yourself the Way God Does Can Bring Healing and Freedom to Your Life, we share how important it is to be able to feel anger and express it in a healthy manner. In the chapter, Good Grief: From Self-Forgiveness to Self-Acceptance, we expound on the role of anger in the grieving process. And as we shared, we have been surprised more than once with how God responded to our clients’ anger—and even their rage—towards Him.
Bringing a Childhood Belief System Into My Adult Years
Because I (Jerry) grew up with a father who had anger issues, I was very uncomfortable with anger. I didn’t want to experience it around me, and I definitely did not want to feel it or express it outwardly. For the child within me, anger equaled fear and anxiety. So what good was that emotion? And when I became a follower of Jesus in 1986, I brought my childhood belief system about anger directly into my relationship with God. Though I “knew better,” I saw God as one who should be feared—and not the healthy fear or awe that is spoken of in Scripture that “brings wisdom and understanding.” For me, fear of God brought torment.
Moving From Despising Anger to Embracing It
So you might be able to understand the journey that I had to take to change my belief system about anger. God had to do some deep healing work in my heart to move me from despising anger (I shut it down as a child, vowing never to be angry) to a place of being willing to accept it has a necessary emotion. I had to be willing to feel it and to express it with others—including with God. Interestingly, in 1988-89 when God started the deep healing work in me, I found out that I had LOTS of anger stored up within. I just never knew it.
God Allowed This To Be Tested In Me
But even after all of the healing, the first couple years of counseling others tested just how comfortable I was with anger. I was especially uncomfortable when clients expressed their anger and rage with God over the terrible things that had happened to them growing up. Though fear would begin to rise up in me at these times, God always trumped my fear with His overwhelming love. He came and met the clients in such a personal and gentle way. We were totally amazed and in awe!
Understanding God’s Response . . . A Poem
But why? Why would God respond with lovingkindness when the anger was directed at Him? Here is a powerful poem that answers this question in a very powerful way:
I Told God I Was Angry
I told God I was angry.
I thought He’d be surprised. I thought I’d kept hostility
quite cleverly disguised.
I told the Lord I hate Him.
I told Him that I hurt.
I told Him that He isn’t fair, He’s treated me like dirt.
I told God I was angry
but I’m the one surprised.
“What I’ve known all along,” He said, “you’ve finally realized.
“At last you have admitted what’s really in your heart.
Dishonesty, not anger, was keeping us apart.
“Even when you hate Me
I don’t stop loving you.
Before you can receive that love you must confess what’s true.
“In telling Me the anger you genuinely feel,
it loses power over you, permitting you to heal.”
I told God I was sorry and He’s forgiven me.
The truth that I was angry has finally set me free.
—Jessica Shaver Renshaw © 1989
Until Next Time
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry through our web site at www.fathersheart.com or email us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-oriented environment and have established opportunities for ministry to individuals or couples for time periods as little as a few hours to as long as five days.