Feeling connected to God is a wonderful feeling. Praying with our whole heart can create blissful moments of beauty with God. Our hearts almost burst with gratitude for all our blessings. And then tragedy strikes. For many of us the last two years dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has created anxiety, fear, and grief. So many people have been lost. And for those of us that endured personal losses or even near losses, the grief hurts deeply. The sudden loss of a loved one can shock our souls and test our faith.
One emotion usually associated with grief is anger. In the case of a sudden death of a loved one, there may not be any one to whom the anger can be directed. So for the Christian, it is often directed at God. Why would God allow this to happen to me? How can this loss be part of God’s will? Why would God allow me to suffer in this way?
Our anger can be so painful that it causes us to turn away from God. How could a loving God allow this to happen to me? If God knows the plans he has for me and these plans are good, how can he figure that this death is for my benefit? And why God, why would you allow me to lose my mother, spouse, grandparents, child, etc? Why God? Why?
There have been countless books written on suffering seeking the answers to these questions and the comforts that can be found. Yet, each of us, when faced with terrible grief, find ourselves in denial that these books could be talking about us. That this situation could have come our way.
When we find ourselves stuck on anger and pushing God away, what are we to do? Will we continue down the path that leads us away from God? The devil wants to lead us down the fork that leads away from God. The devil can use our anger to lead us astray. But brothers and sisters it is fine to be angry. It is perfectly understandable, in fact. And God understands anger. He can also take our anger. And most critically, he wants to help us with our anger.
We can see this scenario played out in a different way. What happens when a parent has to tell their child they cannot have something? Often there is anger about being told “no.” And in his anger, the child turns his back on the parent who said no. In this situation, what would a loving parent do? Stalk off in anger at the child’s behavior? Abandon the child? Of course not. A loving parent would help the child work through this with hugs and kind words. A loving parent would validate the child’s feelings. A loving parent would not abandon their child because of the child’s anger.
Likewise, when we get angry at God, he does not turn away from us. He is right there encouraging us to turn to him. Just like a parent would for the child above. It is true that God allowed this tragedy to happen to us. It was within his permissive will. But God never promised us that we would live a life free of suffering. Quite the contrary. But just as God promised Joshua, that he would never abandon nor forsake him, so too does God promise this to us. (See Deut. 31:6). When we succumb to our anger, we are tempted to turn away from God because we feel that God has hurt us.
Instead of turning away from God because of our anger, let us turn to God and seek his comfort. Tragedy happens in this world because of sin. God himself was not spared the sting of death. And we will not be either. Let us turn to God in confidence so that we can join with Saint Paul in knowing that “he [God] will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) We need God in order to endure our grief and loss. Without him we choose to go our own way. The way of anger, which is the way of sin. And when we turn to God, let us not ask “why did you allow this to happen to me,” but “God, you allowed this to happen to me, please give me the strength to endure this suffering.”