We will never really worship God until we learn to love Him. Loving God is impossible until we walk through our rage against Him. I say this as a person from whom others expect that I will have a lot of rage at God. Honestly, it has been quite some time since I have experienced utter rage against God. Not that you should be impressed. It is embarrassing to admit the angry outbursts I expressed toward God in my past that brought me to this point. When I was in my early twenties, I could be outraged because I stubbed my toe!
After a long and fretful pattern of rage, God meeting me in my anger, and my realization that God is always right and I am always wrong, I have discovered the freedom in bypassing genuine rage against God in my later years. I fully understand the lonely and hopeless feeling when one is trapped in anger with God. Our anger with God distances us from His love, power and presence. Yet, there is no way to get through the wall other than to honestly admit our anger and our need for Him to walk us to true worship.
My love for God seems to have cemented as I walked through my inner rage towards Him. God welcomed my anger. He is big enough to handle my puny wrath no matter how insurmountable it feels to me. I know I’m not alone. I remember a quote on the front of a brochure for a Christian conference I received decades ago. I don’t remember the conference; I did not attend. It was just a flyer I was sent in the mail before email even existed. However, its cover so resonated with my experience of God that I never forgot it and have quoted it on many occasions as I have helped people connect more deeply to God. It went something like this. “’You ask me if I love God; sometimes I hate Him.’ Those are strange words to hear from the lips of Martin Luther. Yet, he said them. The Reformation was not forged by a man who was a hater of God. His anger was a misunderstanding of God’s righteous character.”
I don’t know how anyone can realize their misunderstanding of God’s righteous character unless they face the rage they feel about a God who permits so much evil in the world. We have many biblical examples of the rage that leads to worship. I am talking about in the life of Job, Joshua, Elisha and more. Surprisingly, the apostles don’t give us similar examples. Perhaps when you actually see God die before your very eyes, you embrace your suffering more easily. After Peter and John received their first flogging, their response was humble gratitude that they were considered worthy to suffer in a similar way to that which Jesus suffered. Acts 5:40-42 recounts their first experience of persecution. The Sanhedrin called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
We don’t all progress in our worship of God in spite of evil so rapidly. The understanding of God’s righteous character was solidified in their hearts. You can tell that by their response to their wounded state. I don’t know a safer path to true worship of God than honest rage against Him. I often have people write a letter of anger to God. I then ask them to let God speak back to them and tell them to open His Word and record what He says. Often, I don’t even have to help them see how God answered the truest need of their heart through the Scripture they read. At other times, I see God’s answer; and they need my guidance to understand what He just spoke from His Word to their heart.
Every single time I have ever been mad at God, I have experienced worship. In the end I bow my knee and say that God is good, and I thank Him for His love for me. I am transformed by laying aside my corrupted thinking and seeing that God alone is worthy of my worship and praise.