"And you can say to God sometimes, 'you have got to be kidding'...oh, I think you can say anything. You can say, 'I am mad at you, and I am not going to be a good sport about it!' And that's prayer...It's all prayer."
Anne Lamott and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but there are times when she hits the nail squarely on the head, and this is one of those times.
If you never, ever read another thing I write (though I hope you do), remember this: You can be mad at God. It's OK. He can handle it.
Is your jaw on the table yet? Do you wonder how I can be a "good Christian" and write what I just wrote?
Some people are. I've had people say to me that being mad at God is a sin that will send me to Hell. Now, I believe in Hell, and I know a lot of ways to get there, but I don't think honesty is one of those ways.
I taught my CCD kids a few weeks ago that prayer is talking to God, which is what it is. When you want to have a relationship with someone, eventually, the gloves come off, right? What friendship, marriage, partnership, etc. doesn't have the eventual fight? Eventually, the guy you marry will see you with your makeup off. Eventually, your best friend is going to see you when you're in a not-nice mood. It's part of life.
God made us the way we are. He wants us to come close to Him, to enter into a real relationship with Him. He loves us so much, that that love created us, and sent His son to die for us. God doesn't want, and doesn't need, us to be happy all the time.
Should we thank God in all circumstances, like the Bible says? Yes. Absolutely. It drives me crazy when people say "God is so good!" only when the job has been gained, or the house bought, or the kid chosen for the team. God is always good. Ann Voskamp says that God is always good, and we are always loved. And we are. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. God is never not good. He can't be--his very nature is Goodness.
You can do that--and still get irritated at God. "God...this position I'm in right now? It sucks. I'm not real thrilled that I'm here. I don't want to be here. I want something different. But.....you are in control. But right now, I'm sort of pissed at you, and I want you to know that."
Do bad things happen to good people? Yes. I've also been told that my illnesses, my "issues", are because I didn't have enough faith. That I didn't do enough. I didn't pray enough. That if I just did more, somehow, God was going to change everything.
Guys. God is not a Cosmic Vending Machine. You don't put in prayers and get a Milky War Bar of Good Answer back. Yes, we have to pray, and we have to believe. But even with all those things--there is still suffering. Jesus, the Most Blameless, Perfect Person Who Will Ever Live, still died on the cross.
Every time I've been mad at God, it's because I haven't been open to His Will. I would have long, drawn-out sessions of "I do not want to do this. I do not like this plan..." but at the end of all of them, I--and you--opened my hands and said, "OK. The only way I will stay sane through any of this is to commend my spirit to you. Just give it up. Surrender all of this to Your Will, because the only thing that's going to keep me sane in that." Corrie Ten Boom prayed that same prayer--keep me in the center of your will! Don't let me poke around outside it, because that's going to drive me crazy.
You can get mad at God. You can say "God, I do not understand any of this, and it makes me SO MAD!" That's OK! That is valid. That is prayer.
But the thing that brings you back, and keeps you from going crazy? Knowing that He has a plan. It's His Plan, you don't know it, and you're not in control of it. Open yourself up and say "OK. Your plan is driving me nuts, but I know that without the plan, outside of your plan, I will definitely go nuts. The only way to keep myself in peace and goodness and sanity is to stay with you. You have to take me through this, because I can't."