Monday, December 16, 2019

Anonymous Asks (71)

“Is God mad at me?”

Hmm.

The doctrinal portion of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans begins with these words:

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

None Righteous, No Not One

If you have never, ever been ungodly or unrighteous in even the tiniest, most microscopic degree (as the word “all” implies), or have never done anything whatsoever to suppress the truth (including white lies, lies of omission, or relaying incorrect information, all of which tend to mislead people), I suppose you may be excused.

If not, and if you have not voluntarily entered into a relationship with God’s Beloved Son and Only Acceptable Means of Salvation, the answer would be yes, God’s wrath remains on you. He is very angry indeed.

It’s nothing personal. That’s the way it is with all of us apart from Christ. If you think hard enough, you’ll come up with plenty of reasons you deserve it just like the rest of us.

Christians and the Wrath of God

Now, if you’re a Christian asking this question, that is another story entirely. Christians can confidently say, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s true in the most broad and general sense (God has not destined believers for any of the many different expressions of his wrath), and it’s true in the specific way Paul means it in that passage.

This makes sense, because by putting his trust in Jesus Christ, a Christian enters into a permanent family relationship with God. A good father may find himself displeased with his children because they are being immature, selfish, foolish, rebellious, or otherwise behaving inappropriately, but he does not write them off or behave in an arbitrary or capricious way toward them. Likewise, God’s responses toward us are not dictated by his emotions but by his ongoing purpose to develop in each of his children the character of the Lord Jesus. His actions towards his children are carefully measured and reflect his great love for us.

Whatever may be going on with you, it’s not that God has lost his temper.

Possibilities, Possibilities ...

Now, I don’t know what circumstances in your life are making you think God has it in for you, but if it still feels like God is mad with you, there are several possibilities, all of which come with good news:
  • One, you could just be superstitious. Some people think everything that goes wrong in their life is somehow directed at them personally, or causally-related to some mistake they have made. This is definitely not the case. The good news is the Bible is full of stories of good people who had bad things happen to them, or who had to wait a long time to have good things happen to them. Job, Abraham, Hannah, David, Jeremiah ... there’s a long list, and there is comfort to be found in reading about each of them.
  • Two, you could be confusing a physical problem with a spiritual problem. Two of my worst spiritual experiences occurred while taking medication. I was in an absolute black hole and could not figure out why. Then it dawned on me that I’d had some pretty powerful drugs prescribed for me. In the one case, I was able to quickly stop using the drug. In the other, just knowing the problem was in my bloodstream rather than in my relationship with God made me feel almost 100% better.
  • Three, you could be going through the normal ups and downs of life, and you’ve just hit a bad streak. The good news is that this usually doesn’t go on indefinitely, and your family relationship with God ensures he will surely hear your prayers about your current circumstances and answer them in the best possible way.
  • Four, you could be under attack from the enemies of God, human or otherwise. If so, the good news is that it indicates you are right where you should be in the Christian life. You are making the right enemies, and you already have the right Friend on your side. Continue doing good and entrust yourself to God.
  • Five, you could be under God’s discipline because of deliberate, unconfessed sin. David said, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” The good news about this is that God doesn’t generally afflict us over things we don’t know about. It is when we cherish iniquity that he stops hearing. After all, his purpose for us is repentance, restoration and blessing, not endless punishment originating in some action or attitude we didn’t even realize was sinful. Trust me, if you are really under the discipline of God, you have a pretty good idea why that might be.
Without knowing more about your specific situation, it is hard to determine the most likely source of your feeling that God may be angry with you. But if you have eliminated every possibility you can think of and still feel the same sense of concern, there may be something else going on.

In that case, an honest conversation with the wisest older Christian you know may point you in the right direction.

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