The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 prayers and songs used by the ancient people of Israel in their worship of the LORD. What makes many of the Psalms meaningful today is that they express a range of human emotions: from sadness to joy, from hopelessness to hope, and even from anger to acceptance. The writers of these psalms often let God know when they were angry.
The writer of Psalm 77 felt hurt and rejected by God. Take a moment to read Psalm 77:1-10. Another writer asked God to destroy all of his enemies (see Psalm 83:1-3, 13-18). Yet another writer uses prayer to express frustration with God’s seeming silence. Put yourself in the psalm-writer’s place and think of a time when you wanted God to act on your behalf (see Psalm 109:1-20).
Think About It
- Psalm 109 may be one of the angriest compositions in the Bible. Some people may even have a hard time reading it. How did you respond to it as you were reading it?
- Think about your worst enemy or someone you think of as truly evil. Now read this chapter aloud like you mean it. Try reading it in your angriest voice.
- Can you do it? If that enemy were able to hear you pray like this, would they be shaking in their boots?
- When have you been as angry as the person who wrote this psalm? Name a few things you think would cause you to get this angry.
- If you’re in a group and feel comfortable, share with others some of the things on your list.
- Do you think it’s acceptable to pray to God with this kind of anger? Remind yourself that there are some angry prayers in the Bible.
Passages such as the Psalms remind us that God can listen to and handle our most violent anger. Fortunately God responds to anger better than people usually do! God has been listening to this kind of prayer for ages.
But what about anger that is directed at God?
We trust that God is good, and we put our hope in God. Do you ever find it hard to believe this statement? Can you always see God’s goodness? What about when violence strikes down innocent people? Or when good people are oppressed and abused by very powerful evildoers? When have you felt that God was far away from your situation?
There’s a story about those same questions in the Bible. Job, a good man, suddenly lost all his children and property. Feeling totally abandoned, Job was able to express his anger to God openly. Read Job’s story in Job 7:7-10.
In another story from the Bible, an Israelite woman named Naomi experienced the death of her husband and two sons in a foreign land. She must have believed that God had turned against her. Without any means of support, she decided to return to her home in Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Upon her return, she expressed her bitterness to the women who came out to greet her (see Ruth 1:20, 21).
Think About It
Read Psalm 88. You don’t have to decide right away whether the author of this lament is right or wrong to accuse God in this way, that is, whether or not God was an angry bone-crusher. But we know that this cry came from deeply felt hurt, a wound all the more painful because it seemed to come from God.
We also know that God did not reject or ignore this complaint. Is it possible that by listening intently to such pain and anger, God makes it more tolerable?
What have you been afraid to complain about to God? Have you experienced hurt or disappointment that you think God is responsible for? What is the worst thing you’ve ever thought about God?
You might write it down, or just voice it in your mind. But do so without fear of condemnation. God will not reject your thoughts and feelings, no matter how angry or bad they seem to you. Remember: God is able to hear you at your worst and still love you without condition. Reflect a few minutes on this affirmation.
Pray About It
Hear now the prayers of my heart, Lord. I bring my most inner feelings and most bitter thoughts before you, knowing that you love me anyway. Thank you for hearing me and understanding me completely. I claim and believe that I am your child. Amen.
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