Not many Christians will admit to being angry with God. It seems unholy somehow, against the "rules" of Christianity that we have been taught. After all, if God is no longer angry with us, then what right do we have to be angry with Him?
Yet simmering beneath the surface, even the best believers have some level of anger towards God, anger they often won't admit even to themselves. Why? Because most of us, no matter how holy, deal with unmet expectations.
One of the greatest breakthroughs in how we understand God can also lead us to one of the greatest difficulties: God is a person! We can have a wonderful, personal relationship with God, yet that very same truth can become a stumbling block to us when we transfer natural human expectations over onto Him and forget He is also divine.
In a perfect world, we would all feel completely understood. Friends would intuitively know the right times to connect with us, families would function in loving unity, our bosses would value our work (and reimburse us adequately for it!), and God Himself would respond to our every prayer - the way we want Him to!
I don't live a life like that, and I'm sure you don't, either! Offenses do come (far too often!) and there seems to be, in general, a large gap between what God promises in the Bible and what actually takes place day to day.
Unfortunately, a series of unmet expectations over time lead us to one thing: anger.
Are Your Expectations Realistic?
I talked with two friends about expectations this week. We all have them, and we all wish that it were easier to understand God and how He works with us!
We want God to speak to this person or that one and tell them to shape up, to treat us better.
We wish God would hear our cries for help.
We don't understand sickness, death, the lack of healing, the seeming unresponsiveness of God.
Aren't we all supposed to be hearing from Him? Where is He? Why isn't God - or the Body of Christ, for that matter - responding to our needs?
The answer is that in many cases, our expectations of God are unbiblical, and our expectations of people are unrealistic.
A Father's Blessing
My father-in-law had a gift of healing. In his earlier years, he prayed for people and they received physical healing from various ailments.
When he was older and very ill himself, close to death, I remember telling him with a smile: "You can't go home to Jesus until you pray for my hearing! (I have been partially deaf for most of my life.)
At the time, he laughed and said, "Sure, I will!"
Perhaps I was naive, but I hoped our praying together would do more than just bring me healing; he had difficulty relating to people, and I was offering him a chance to shine in a dark time.
What I didn't know then was that he had already given up on life, on God, and on himself. He died without ever praying for me.
Although it was nothing more than a minor offense, I felt cheated of a father's blessing. I carried resentment and anger towards him for several months until I forgave him for his selfishness. Sometimes people - and God - just don't come through for you.
Wrong Beliefs Lead to Wrong Expectations
While it's easy to blame the other person for what they're doing wrong, God's solution for anger is actually to examine the wrong beliefs that got us there in the first place.
What was my wrong belief? That I was working from a place of needing a father's blessing, when I already had one! Ephesians 3 reads: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (NIV, emphasis mine)
I am already blessed with Bible promises for healing, adoption into my Father's wonderful family, and every spiritual blessing! I have everything I need for life and godliness. I am not working from a place of need; I am complete IN HIM!
My wrong expectation - that someone else needed to bless me - was rooted in a wrong belief: that I was somehow deficient.
Until we renew our minds fully to think as God thinks about us, we will continue to expect people to do what God has already done for us, or what God expects us to do for ourselves. It is my job to get to know who God is, who I am in Him, and what He has made available to me so that I have healthy, reasonable expectations of Him and others. Doing this frees me from the disappointments that inevitably come when people - and God - seem to fail me.
The only way to change my beliefs is to dig deeper into God's Word. As I meditate on God's promises and familiarize myself with His expectations, I begin to close that gap between what life is like right now and what God says it COULD be like.
Godly Beliefs Lead to Good Fruit!
By changing my beliefs about myself - for example, seeing myself as full, not empty - I am able to then release others from the bondages of my own unreasonable expectations, blessing them instead. Love takes the initiative!
The fruit of anger and bitterness is a critical spirit. We tend to judge what we cannot forgive. Had I continued to nurse that wound from my father-in-law, I would have dug an even deeper pit for myself - one that would not have allowed me to receive future blessings from other "fathers" in the faith.
Fortunately, God showed me that this man was simply an "empty cup," one who had become spiritually depleted himself and could no longer give what he did not have. Praise God, those who spend time with Him never have to be that way!
I love the way the Passion Translation words it: "By constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life." (Ephesians 3:17) Yes, Lord!
A Framework for Healing
No matter what you are dealing with today, whether loneliness or unforgiveness, fear or resentment, you can change the outcome by changing your beliefs. Cycles of disappointment can be broken in Christ. (See the diagram provided in today's download for more.)
The beauty of our salvation is that it moves us from a self-centered view of the world to a God-centered perspective, one that acknowledges that we are deeply loved and immeasurably cared for. We can be content, needing nothing, because we are united with HIM.
When this shift into divine thinking occurs, anger dissipates. Unreasonable expectations of others dimish and resentment towards God is replaced with gratitude and love. Today, right now, you have everything you need for life and godliness! Any gap you perceive between divine reality and your life experience is simply an opportunity to re-examine your beliefs and align yourself with God's thinking! I am doing this daily, and I hope that you will embark on this adventure as well. It sure beats blaming God!
If you are a visual person and like to see things outlined on paper, I encourage you to download the free handout included with today's teaching. This is a diagram the Lord revealed to me in a quiet time this week as I meditated on the subject of anger. It outlines two cycles of beliefs and expectations: a self-centered cycle and a God-centered cycle. I believe this resource will be very helpful to you as you move forward in your faith!
Anger is a major blockage to prayer and communicating with God. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Share your comments below, or contact me to let me know how I can pray for you. You are not alone!
P.S. - Subscribers, the "Beliefs & Expectations" diagram will continue to be available to you 24/7 in your Subscriber Resource Library!
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com. Photo credits: Christian Fregnan, Annie Spratt, and Edward Koorey of Unsplash.
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping you "Discover Life-Giving Communication with God." At God's request in 2013, she founded His Inscriptions, a prophetic teaching ministry devoted to helping people hear God better. If you have been blessed by her words, please consider sowing a seed into her ministry! Your tax-deductible gift helps keep His Inscriptions online, reaching readers around the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Click here for more information.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.