Book Review—”Angry with God: An Honest Journey through Suffering and Betrayal,” by Brad Hambrick
What we conclude about our grief-anger at or with God and how we act upon it is critical to our healing process and, ultimately, our spiritual growth. The effort we give to understanding our grief-anger may well bring a solution for our own good, not only because we may manage our suffering better, but also because we can find our pleasure with God, even though in pain.
Is It Right to be Angry?
As the incensed Jonah watches the wicked Assyrian city of Nineveh repent and turn to God, the Lord asks the prophet, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4). When it comes to understanding anger in Scripture—God’s or man’s—the crucial question is what kind of anger?
Angry with God offers guidance specifically for when pain leads to grief that gets stuck in the anger phase. For this review, let’s call it grief-anger. The author explains, “Anger with God is often stunted grief with the loss or destruction of something good” (p. 39). He explains the book’s title and purpose: “This entire book is an invitation and a process for sharing your pain with God as a means of processing what you currently experience as anger at God” (p. 25). Intentionally understanding anger as a part of the grief process can move us forward in our pain and suffering.
Grief-anger can be toxic and pernicious. No one gets angry with God for something small. When we direct our anger toward God, it is because we’ve faced something difficult. Anger is an often-overlooked part of grieving and, as such, is a predictable response to painful experiences. The author aims to demystify pain and suffering as it relates to grief-anger toward God, which he reclassifies as with God. Grief-anger progress is made and measured by “restoring order and hope” (p. 12), which may not come easily.
The Book’s Message
The book offers a framework for viewing and treating grief-anger. Grief must not remain unassimilated. In the book’s first section, “It’s Safe to Talk about Your Anger,” the author focuses on the distinction between the prepositions at and with in our anger toward God. He explains, “Whether our anger is with or at God is largely determined by how we believe God responds to us in moments such as these” (p. 22). It’s okay to respond to pain and suffering in grief-anger. After all, God manifests righteous anger.
You can distance yourself from God in your grief-anger or walk closely with Him. It’s a choice, and it need not remain an unresolved riddle. The second section, “Articulating Your Pain,” reflects on how to view our faith through the lens of emotions. It encourages dislodging stuck grief-anger by articulating it. Biblical lament illustrates God’s patience with us when we wrestle with our pain and suffering through prayer. Talk to God but also talk to people.