“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job 7:11 NIV
We can’t have intimacy without honesty. This is true of all relationships, even our relationship with God.
This can get awkward when life hurts and we feel let down by the God we trusted to have our back. We may feel angry but unsure what to do about it; wondering, “Am I even allowed to be angry with God? Is it theologically correct? Is it arrogant to demand the Almighty explain himself? Will my anger make him angry with me?”
Often, instead of feeling our anger authentically, we’ll stuff it down or try to take the edge off of it by calling it other names like disappointment, frustration, or saying, “His ways are higher than mine.”
But as Jay-Z says, “You can’t heal what you never reveal,” and pushing our anger down only forces it to come out in other ways like depression, resentment, or a sense of not knowing how to pray. In time, our unexpressed anger becomes a wall between our heart and God’s.
I think of psychologist Jordan Peterson’s advice to young couples: “Fight! Fight about everything! You’ve got things to figure out. It will strengthen the bonds.”
In the same way, I believe that God, who calls us his bride (Eph 5:30-33), wants us to fight with him when we’re hurt and angry.
When I’m afraid to bring my anger to God, it helps me to ask what God would want most—for me to be polite? Or proper? To toe the line of “theological correctness” (the religious version of political correctness?) Or would he want me to bring my whole heart to him—whatever state it’s in?
2 Chronicles 16:9 (HCSB) paints a picture of a passionate God whose eyes roam the earth looking “…for those whose hearts are completely his.”
He wants our hearts. Completely. From basement to rooftop, for better or worse. It seems clear that what God desires most is whole-hearted union with us.
The Book of Psalms—tucked right in the middle of the Bible as the heart of scripture—shows us what whole-hearted conversation with God looks like through unguarded prayers that express every human emotion: joy, sadness, fear, and even anger. The common thread tying them all together is honesty.
It’s remarkable to consider: if you believe God was involved in the writing of scripture, it means he had a hand in writing the most incriminating indictments against his own character. If defending his image were more important to him than having intimacy with us, many of the psalms wouldn’t have made it past the editor’s desk.
“Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 NIV)
“…How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2 NIV)
And elsewhere, in Job 7:19-20 (NIV), listen to the exasperation in Job’s voice, “Will you never… let me alone even for an instant? …Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?”
After losing everything he loves, Job lays his hurt and anger on God’s doorstep. His friends who came to comfort him can’t resist offering their two cents, saying the kinds of things good religious people are supposed to say: “Surely you must have done something to deserve this calamity since God is not only all powerful, but also always right!”—an argument that looks good on paper but falls apart when God finally joins the conversation.
After an intense line of questioning that at first feels like a reprimand, God commends Job for being truthful.
But to Job’s friends, who may have imagined themselves as the righteous defenders of God’s honor, he says, “I am angry with you because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
He drives the point home by implying he was this close to wiping them from the face of the earth: “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.” (Job 42:7-8)
Why is God so severe here?
The word religion literally means, “to connect.” Could it be that God is angered when we use religion—meant for connection—as a way of avoiding intimacy with him, acting as though he’s a hard taskmaster instead of the lover of our soul?
Job, however, trusts the unfailing love of God enough to boldly risk the kind of naked honesty it takes to know and be known by God.
In passages like these, I believe what God is saying is something like: “If you’re angry with me, bring it to me. Fling your raging heart at me with all you’ve got. I can take it. Do not be afraid. I want your whole heart. Come, let us reason together and go deeper into intimacy.”
If you enjoyed Jason’s writing and would like to read more, check out his reading plan based on the songs from his current project, “Order Disorder Reorder” on the YouVersion Bible app by clicking here.