Why we Get Angry at God (Jonah 4)

We get angry at God for a lot of different reasons.

We get angry when something happens we deem unfair. We get angry when something happens that we don’t think should happen. We also get angry when God moves slower than we’d like, moves different than we’d like.

Ultimately we get angry at God because we aren’t God and he doesn’t act like us.

There is a fascinating conversation between Jonah and God in Jonah 4 about Jonah’s anger towards God. Why is Jonah angry? Because God did exactly what Jonah expected God to do. Jonah knew that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Jonah 4:3) He knew that God would relent from destroying Nineveh, and that is why he is angry at God.

To me, what is amazing about the conversation is that God doesn’t get angry at Jonah. He doesn’t scold Jonah. He simply asks, “Do you do well to be angry?” In other words, are you angry for the right reasons? Is your anger adding anything to your life, to your faith, to your world?

I remember a conversation that Katie and I had 11 years ago. We were sitting up at 3am talking in our bedroom. This was one of those life defining conversations. It was raw, emotional and hard for me to hear. My sin, my stubbornness and pride had gotten us into a hard spot as a couple and in my career. I was running from God’s call to plant a church, and Katie called me on it. God was moving to bring me to where I needed to be. Dan Allender said, “When we hear the call to go and we run in the opposite direction, God has a way of having us thrown off the boat, swallowed by a large fish, and spit onto the shore where we are to serve (and be). God allows us to run and yet to know that He will arrive at our place of flight before we arrive, so He can direct our steps again.”

That’s where I was.

I was angry. Why wouldn’t God make it easier? Why did God have to send people into my life that were difficult, that left painful wounds in my life? Why didn’t he stop that?

At this point in my life, I don’t have all the answers to those questions, but I have some of them.

Like Jonah, we have good reasons to be angry. At least we are convinced they’re good reasons. And they might be good. Jonah felt Nineveh deserved justice, not mercy. They were a brutal people. How could God forgive them? Was their repentance legitimate and real? Was it fake to get mercy?

We’ve been there in relationships. We’ve been there in life. You might be there right now.

If you are, let God ask you the question he asked Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry? What is your anger adding to your life?”

To the places in your life, in your heart that you are angry with God and at God, what is your anger adding? Take family relationships. Many of us have broken family relationships that have caused us enormous scars. We are hurt, we are angry, we are isolated. Many of us have a right to be angry. But what is our anger adding? Is it causing good in your life to be angry?

With your kids, your job, your finances, what is your anger adding? What good is it doing?

Most of the time the answer is no, it is not adding anything. It is not doing any good. Most of the time, we allow people to take up space in our heart who couldn’t care less about us.

Notice, Jonah is angry but God is slow to anger.

Remember: We get angry at God because we aren’t God and God doesn’t act like us.

Like Jonah, we get mad at God because he doesn’t do what we would do or act the way we want him to.

Like Jonah, we know the words God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, but in our hearts we don’t trust those words, and we don’t embrace those words or celebrate them and what they mean.

God won’t let Jonah go and he won’t let Jonah off the hook. He wants Jonah’s heart. He doesn’t just want him to stop being angry, he wants to get to the root of why he is mad. So God appoints a plant, a worm and a scorching wind. We are being told that God can use all the good, the bad and the hard for our good. God wants Jonah’s heart and will use whatever means necessary to get it.

God wants your heart and will use whatever means necessary to get it.

This is important, so I don’t want you to miss this.

What you get angry about is important. What you are angry at God for right now is important.

Because when we get angry, we know we are on to something. We know we have hit on something that matters, something we need to dig into. Whenever you are angry, you must stop and ask why and what is happening in that moment, because your anger is revealing something you must face, you must deal with. It is important to you, and it is important to the state of your heart.

That is the invitation God is giving to Jonah and to us as the book of Jonah ends.

What are you angry at? Is that a good thing to be angry at?